Links 2/5/2019: GNU Guix Reaches 1.0, Airship 1.0, Rook 1.0 and Oracle Linux 8 Beta

Posted in News Roundup at 11:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Desktop

    • Latest Dell XPS 15 9575 BIOS updates result in unresponsive input devices when logging in to Linux

      Last year we reported about a bug in a BIOS update to the Dell XPS 15 9575 2-in-1 that caused the trackpad to have a mind of its own. Now, we again get to see a similar bug with the the latest BIOS version for the XPS 15 9575 convertible that affects the touchpad and keyboard responsiveness for users trying to logon to Linux. The bug was filed at the end of March 2019 but the problem appears to persist even with the latest firmware released at the end of April.

      User Joe Barnett has filed a bug report on the Ubuntu Launchpad bug tracker stating that the touchpad and keyboard in the XPS 15 2-in-1 become unresponsive when logging in to the Gnome Display Manager (GDM) on Ubuntu 19.04 when the laptop is flashed with BIOS version 1.4.0 or above. He writes…

    • The 9th Anniversary

      Wow… Today is the ninth anniversary of this blog, which has its humble origins as my personal attempt to record my experiences as a Linux user when I migrated.

      In this journey, I wrote about the different problems that I encountered and how to solve them. Linux has grown so stable, however, that, as a non-technical user, I barely find problems with my computers, so the quantity of my posts has reduced.

    • Chrome OS 74 hits the stable branch, brings audio output support for Linux apps and more

      A new Chrome OS stable version is always fun. This is v74, which brings with it, among other things, audio output support for Linux applications (yay) and USB camera support for the Android Camera app. You can find the full changelog below.

    • Linux Apps Getting Major Improvements in Chrome OS 74

      Google has released Chrome 74 with a long list of improvements, and one of the key changes concerns the way the platform gets along with Linux apps.
      Beginning with this version, Linux apps can finally output audio on ChromeOS, so Google managed to resolve one of the biggest issues with its Linux implementation in the operating system.

      Google says the same release includes USB camera support for the Android Camera app, which technically means that you are able to use any USB webcam with the official Camera app on Android.

      ChromeOS 74 also introduces support for new files and folders in the “My files” local root, as well as deeper integration with Google by allowing users to see their most recent apps and searchers by simply clicking the search box.

  • Server

    • Goodbye, Shadowman: Red Hat changes its logo

      Decades ago, Red Hat came up with its iconic logo: Shadowman. Times change, however, and so do Linux companies. As Red Hat CEO, Jim Whitehurst tweeted: “26 years ago, @RedHat was a scrappy startup ‘sneaking’ into data centers with boxed copies of a Linux-based operating system. Today, we’re the leading provider of open source solutions for the enterprise hybrid cloud. We’ve evolved — and so has our logo.”

      Red Hat isn’t making this move because, as you might think, Red Hat is being acquired by IBM. And the new logo was never going to be a blue hat. As Rich Bowen, Red Hat open-source evangelist, tweeted: “Most frequent question at conferences since the IBM acquisition of Red Hat in October: Will your logo be a blue hat? 2nd: Or, will it be purple? Har, har! 3rd: What are you doing with that knife?”

    • Red Hat – New Logo

      Well it seems that Red Hat have changed their logo, what do you think?

    • Where in the world is Shadowman?

      Oh, hello there. You might have noticed something new around here. Something’s…different. No, we didn’t get a new haircut, but thank you for the compliment. Our unwavering commitment to open source? Nope, that’s still the same. The Red Hat logo?


      You may have noticed we are evolving our logo, and you may be wondering why. “Why would you change our beloved Shadowman?” “Why would you stick with a fedora when you could pick a different hat like a fez?” “Why would you change something made in 1997, that year was the best – flannel shirts, boy bands, Titanic and Tamagotchis!”

      All totally fair.

    • Red Hat has changed its logo for the first time in 20 years

      Red Hat has a new logo, the first major update to the iconic Linux brand in almost 20 years.

      The billion-dollar Linux company, which was sold to IBM for $34 bullion last year, unveiled its striking new corporate identity in a blog post ahead of the Red Hat Summit 2019.

      The new design (which you can see above) is not a radical departure; I mean, it’s still literally a red hat.

    • New look. Same Red Hat. So what did we change?

      Their power comes from the number of people who can look at them and take away more or less the same idea. Sometimes that’s just a name. But sometimes there is more; a story, shared values, a common purpose, a way to be.

      The Red Hat logo is changing for the first time in 19 years. And our challenge, while easy to describe, is thorny. How to preserve the recognizability and reputation (and meaning) of our last mark, while creating something fresh, new and easier to work with.

      So, then, how do you make design changes that resonate with the past, seize the current day and position you properly for the next 20 years?

    • Airship 1.0 Now Available

      The pilot project was supported by the OpenStack Foundation, with initial code contributed by AT&T, Intel and SKT.

    • Oracle Linux 8 Beta Now Available for Download

      We are pleased to announce the availability of the Oracle Linux 8 Beta release for the 64-bit Intel and AMD (x86_64) and 64-bit Arm (aarch64) platforms. Oracle Linux 8 Beta is a major release that introduces many new features, enhancements, and changes, and is fully binary compatible with Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 Beta.

      Oracle Linux 8 Beta includes DNF (Dandified yum), the modern replacement for the yum package manager as well as RPM changes, security feature updates, networking, high availability, and file system improvements, and enhanced developer tools, compilers, and scripting language support. Oracle Linux 8 Beta ships with the kernel-4.18.0-32.el8 Red Hat Compatible Kernel (RHCK) package. For details of the new features, enhancements, and changes, refer to the Oracle Linux 8 Beta Release Notes.

    • Oracle Linux 8 Beta Released – Based On RHEL 8

      While next week we may see the release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.0 (RHEL8) or at least learn a release date during Red Hat Summit 2019 Boston, the Oracle folks today released their first public beta of Oracle Linux 8.

      There’s been the RHEL 8 Beta since last November while Oracle engineers have now readied their beta of their RHEL8-derived Oracle Linux 8.

      Oracle Linux 8 Beta carries the big changes over from RHEL8 including DNF Yum support, LUKS2 disk encryption, Cockpit management, GNOME Shell 3.27 and Wayland being used by default on supported configurations, and many other changes and simply a lot of updated packages that with RHEL7 / Oracle Linux 7 have been years out-of-date compared to upstream.

    • Red Hat Virtualization 4.3 is at the starting gate

      At Open Infrastructure Summit in Denver, Red Hat announced that its latest virtualization platform, Red Hat Virtualization (RHV) 4.3, will be out in May.

      RHV is the latest version of Red Hat’s Linux Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM)-powered virtualization platform. KVM s a built-in Linux virtualization program for x86 with virtualization extensions (Intel VT or AMD-V). Red Hat’s take also supports IBM’s POWER 9 hardware.

      What’s that? Do you still need virtualization, when containers and Kubernetes are all the rage? Yes. Yes, you do. As Joe Fernandes, Red Hat’s VP of cloud platforms products, said in a statement, “Virtualization provides a foundation for modern computing and entry point for hybrid cloud deployments, making a flexible, stable and open virtualization platform a key piece of an enterprise technology.”

      This release tries to deliver greater security, easier interoperability, and improved integration across enterprise IT environments. It can be used for virtualizing both Linux and Microsoft Windows workloads.

    • Introducing Red Hat Quay 3 – A Registry for your Linux and Windows Containers

      Today we announce Red Hat Quay 3, a security-focused, scalable and automated container image registry.

      Built for storing container images, Quay offers visibility over images themselves. It can be integrated into your CI/CD pipelines and existing workflows using its API and other automation features. This release brings support for multiple architectures, Windows containers, and a Red Hat Enterprise Linux-based image to help users store, build, and deploy their images in a more secure way across diverse enterprise environments.

      Quay was first released in 2013, as the first enterprise hosted registry. We celebrate the first major release of the container registry since it joined the Red Hat portfolio of products through the acquisition of CoreOS.

    • Rook V1.0 Is Here

      The Rook v1.0, the first major release of the open source cloud native storage orchestrator for Kubernetes, is here! The code base has matured through a series of minor releases, starting with the humble beginnings of v0.1 and reaching v0.9 late last year.

    • 5G And Edge Deployments In Spotlight @ Open Infrastructure Summit 2019

      The first Open Infrastructure Summit (formerly the OpenStack Summit), kicked off on April 29 in Denver, has brought together hundreds of contributors to discuss how open source software is powering 5G and edge deployments. The three-day conference will feature technical sessions to address how open source technologies are transforming mobility.

    • Kata Containers, Zuul Graduates As OpenStack’s Ist Infrastructure Projects

      The OpenStack Foundation (OSF) has announced that former projects Kata Containers and Zuul have exited their pilot phase to become the first top-level Open Infrastructure Projects of the Foundation.

      While evaluating these pilot projects for confirmation, the Board of Directors at OSF considered whether they could demonstrate: a strategic focus aligned with that of the OpenStack Foundation and its Open Infrastructure mission well-defined governance procedures; a commitment to technical best practices and open collaboration, especially as conveyed by the principles of the Four Opens; and an actively engaged ecosystem of developers and users that demonstrates a growing, healthy, and diverse community.

    • Docker announces collaboration with Microsoft’s .NET at DockerCon 2019 [Ed: Microsoft has infiltrated Docker. Docker is now ‘owned’ by the bullies from Redmond (they don’t need to buy it anymore).]

      Using Docker and .NET together was brought up in the year 2017, where Microsoft explained the cons of using them together.

    • Play nicely, Shuttleworth tells feuding foundations

      Ubuntu founder and Canonical CEO Mark Shuttleworth used his keynote address at this week’s Open Infrastructure Summit (previously the OpenStack Summit) in Colorado, US, to rap open source foundations over the knuckles.

      He also reminded them of the key tenant of the open source movement: to “enable innovation to come from everywhere”.

      Although he did not name those he intimated could be seen to be empire-building at the expense of the ideals of the open source revolution, several commentators believe he was referring to the recent spats between OpenStack and the Cloud Native Computing Foundation over the telecoms market.

      Shuttleworth told summit attendees that in the 15 years since the launch of Ubuntu and 10 years since the first code that became OpenStack was written, open source had moved from a rebellion of mavericks, to become so mainstream that Ubuntu Linux has earned a carrier-grade rating and is utilised by 20 of the world’s largest financial institutions to build open infrastructure.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • SGX: when 20 patch versions aren’t enough

      Intel’s “Software Guard Extensions” (SGX) feature allows the creation of encrypted “enclaves” that cannot be accessed from the rest of the system. Normal code can call into an enclave, but only code running inside the enclave itself can access the data stored there. SGX is pitched as a way of protecting data from a hostile kernel; for example, an encryption key stored in an enclave should be secure even if the system as a whole is compromised. Support for SGX has been under development for over three years; LWN covered it in 2016. But, as can be seen from the response to the latest revision of the SGX patch set, all that work has still not answered an important question: what protects the kernel against a hostile enclave?
      The proposed API for creating and controlling enclaves is complex, so one would expect it to come with comprehensive documentation. The actual API documentation turns out to be a little sparse, though. One starts by opening /dev/sgx/enclave; there are no privilege checks in the kernel, so the ability to open and act upon this file is determined solely by its permission bits. The SGX_IOC_ENCLAVE_CREATE ioctl() command will begin the process of setting up an enclave in the system. Each page of code or data must then be added with a separate SGC_IOC_ENCLAVE_ADD_PAGE call; the contents of those pages will be encrypted by the processor so that they will be unreadable outside of the enclave. When that process is complete, the enclave is completed with an SGX_IOC_ENCLAVE_INIT operation. At that point, the system loses its ability to manipulate the contents of the enclave; it can call into the enclave to ask for services, but cannot read or modify any of the data stored therein.

      After 20 revisions of the patch set over three years, the authors of this work (which was posted by Jarkko Sakkinen) might well be forgiven for thinking that it must be about ready for merging. This posting evoked a new round of opposition, though, that seems clear to delay things for at least a couple more rounds.

      The most vocal critic is Greg Wettstein, who has clearly been working with SGX and Intel’s out-of-tree driver for some time. His complaints put off some developers with their tone and verbosity, and not all of them were seen as being entirely valid. He was, for example, unhappy that the user-space API has changed from previous versions of the patch set, breaking his current code. But, since this functionality has never been supported in a mainline kernel, there was little sympathy on offer. Some of his other observations, though, needed to be taken more seriously.

    • Implementing fully immutable files

      This description is true for the most part (at least on filesystems supporting this bit), but Wong noticed an important exception: a process that opens a file for writing prior to the setting of the immutable bit will still be able to write to the file after the bit is set for as long as it holds the file descriptor open. So while many operations on an immutable file are blocked, modifying the data in the file using open file descriptors is still allowed. The file is not yet, in other words, fully immutable.

      That behavior is both inconsistent and surprising; Wong set out to change it by making the system actually behave the way the man page says it will. Doing that requires two types of changes, the first of which is easier than the second. Whenever a process attempts to write to a file descriptor, a call is made to generic_write_checks() to ensure that the operation can be allowed. Adding a check for immutability to that function will cause write() calls to fail immediately once a file has been marked immutable. A similar check needs to be added to do_mmap() to prevent the creation of a writable memory mapping from a file descriptor. Those changes close off the most obvious ways to change an immutable file.

      The remaining problem is that writable memory mappings of the file may already exist, and those, too, can be used to modify a file that has since been marked immutable. User-space code need not make any system calls to write to a memory-mapped region, so there isn’t a single, simple place to add a check like there is with write() and mmap(). The good news is that most of the needed machinery to prevent such writes is already in place, thanks to how filesystems manage writable mappings now.

      The problem that a filesystem implementation has to solve is that it, too, will get no notification when a process writes to a region of memory that has a file mapped into it; user space simply dereferences a pointer and stores data there. But the filesystem needs to know when that happens so it can ensure that the newly written data eventually finds its way to persistent storage. The trick that is used here is to write-protect the pages in memory. When user space attempts to write to one of those pages, a page fault will result; the kernel can then make the page writable and notify the filesystem that the page has been written to. When the filesystem code eventually writes the modified page(s) back to disk, it can once again write-protect those pages to mark them as being clean and to catch any subsequent modifications.

    • Tracking pages from get_user_pages()

      As has been recently discussed here, developers for the filesystem and memory-management subsystems have been grappling for years with the problems posed by the get_user_pages() mechanism. This function maps memory into the kernel’s address space for direct access by the kernel or peripheral devices, but that kind of access can create confusion in the filesystem layers, which may not be expecting that memory to be written to at any given time. A new patch set from Jérôme Glisse tries to chip away at a piece of the problem, but a complete solution is not yet in view.
      The problem with get_user_pages() is relatively simple to understand: filesystems go to great lengths to track whether any given file page in memory is in a clean state — whether it matches the data in persistent storage — or not. When necessary, they use the memory-management subsystem to prevent changes to specific pages so that those pages can be written in a known state; once a page is clean it can be made writable again. Pointers to pages obtained by get_user_pages() bypass this mechanism, though; peripheral devices remain able to write data to those pages at any time. A poorly timed write can lead to data corruption or kernel crashes, neither of which is likely to be the behavior the user of the system is hoping for. Things get even more complicated if the pages in question are stored in persistent memory.

      The above-linked article covered a nascent plan to track pages that have references created by get_user_pages(), perhaps by playing tricks with the page reference counts. Recent reference-counting changes might just have thrown a spanner into that works, though; the implementation of this plan has not yet been posted. Glisse’s patch set is intended to work with it once it is around, though; in particular, it is designed to get the block layer to do its part to ensure that the tracking is correct. To do so, it creates a new mechanism to track the origin of pages that are given to the block layer with I/O requests.

    • Realtek Contributes New “RTW88″ 802.11ac WiFi Driver To The Linux Kernel

      Newer Realtek WiFi chipsets are about to see better hardware support under Linux thanks to Realtek contributing the new “RTW88″ driver to the mainline Linux 5.2 kernel.

      RTW88 is a new 802.11ac WiF driver that initially supports the RTL8822BE and RTL8822CE chipsets while they are working to extend it to more hardware including the likes of the RTL8821C and RTL8814B chipsets. This new Realtek open-source WiFi Linux driver only supports the PCI-based chips for now while USB and SDIO chips will be added as well moving forward. Standard STA/AP/ADHOC modes should be working along with other functionality.

      This new Realtek WLAN Linux driver comes in at 47,514 lines of code, which does include some large generated tables and header files.

    • Intel & AMD Send Out New Patches For Linux Cgroup Support For GPUs

      Separate patch series sent out on Wednesday by Intel and AMD Linux developers are continuing work on prepping cgroup infrastructure support around graphics processors.

      For a long time now there have been patches floating around for prepping Cgroup infrastructure around DRM drivers / graphics processors. This work would make it possible to monitor and limit GPU resources just as you can use cgroups for such on CPUs. This work could also be used for restricting video memory to a set of processes, among other possible restrictions.

    • Linux Foundation

      • FPT Joins Automotive Grade Linux and the Linux Foundation to Accelerate Connected Car Development

        FPT, the Southeast Asia’s leading IT company, has joined the Automotive Grade Linux project at the Linux Foundation, marking an important stage in FPT’s automotive technology development.


        AGL is an open source project that is changing the way automotive manufacturers build software. Adopting an open platform across the industry enables automakers and suppliers to share and reuse the same code base, which reduces development costs, decreases time-to-market for new products and reduces fragmentation across the industry.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Announcing Wio: A clone of Plan 9′s Rio for Wayland

        In short, Wio is a Wayland compositor based on wlroots which has a similar look and feel to Plan 9’s Rio desktop. It works by running each application in its own nested Wayland compositor, based on Cage – yet another wlroots-based Wayland compositor. I used Cage in last week’s RDP article, but here’s another cool use-case for it.

        The behavior this allows for (each window taking over its parent’s window, rather than spawning a new window) has been something I wanted to demonstrate on Wayland for a very long time. This is a good demonstration of how Wayland’s fundamentally different and conservative design allows for some interesting use-cases which aren’t possible at all on X11.

        I’ve also given Wio some nice features which are easy thanks to wlroots, but difficult on Plan 9 without kernel hacking. Namely, these are multihead support, HiDPI support, and support for the wlroots layer shell protocol. Several other wlroots protocols were invited to the party, useful for taking screenshots, redshift, and so on. Layer shell support is particularly cool, since programs like swaybg and waybar work on Wio.

      • Wio: Plan 9′s Rio Windowing System Re-Implemented As A Wayland Compositor

        Wio is the newest Wayland compositor out there and re-implements Rio, the windowing system used by Bell Labs’ Plan 9 operating system.

        Wio is a side project of Drew DeVault, the lead developer of the Sway i3-inspired Wayland compositor as well as the WLROOTS Wayland library.

        With WLROOTS allowing for a lot of code re-use between Wayland compositors and Drew also leveraging the kiosk-like Cage Wayland compositor, it was a feasible project having a Rio-inspired compositor.

  • Applications

    • KeePass 2.42 available!

      You can get it here: Download KeePass 2.42.

      This is a stable release. It is recommended to upgrade from any previous 2.x version to 2.42.

      KeePass 2.42 mainly features user interface and integration enhancements, and various other minor new features and improvements.

      Hashes and signatures for integrity checking are available, and program binaries are digitally signed (Authenticode). New translations are available, too.

    • KeePass 2.42 Released with Many New Features / Improvements

      KeePass password manager 2.42 was released a few hours ago with many enhancements, improvements and bug-fixes.

    • Check Out These Free Image Editing Alternatives to Aperture

      Gimp (an acronym for GNU-Based Image Manipulation Program) is a free image editor that closely resembles Adobe’s Photoshop. It uses many of the same tools and keyboard commands, and supports a similarly wide breadth of file types and export options. The only caveat here is that, unlike other picks on this list, Gimp is not strictly about photography. It features a more general workflow that covers everything from photography, to digital painting, graphic design, typography, and more. Still, Gimp is a highly capable photo editing program and is absolutely a shoo-in for one of the best Aperture replacements out there. You can get it for Mac, Windows, or Linux.

    • scikit-survival 0.8 released

      scikit-survival 0.8 released

      This release of scikit-survival 0.8 adds some nice enhancements for validating survival models.

      Previously, scikit-survival only supported Harrell’s concordance index to assess the performance of survival models.

    • Plasma KSysGuard – System monitor galore

      KSysGuard is probably the least-effectively named system monitor in the Linux world, but it is without a doubt the most elegant, flexible and extensible one, bringing good looks, extreme customization and a wealth of information to the table. No compromise, you get it all. Plus, you can also monitor remote hosts, w00t.

      This program won’t necessarily get much spotlight (cough cough), but it definitely deserves it, as it’s a great example of what Plasma can do. It is possible to provide a great deal of information without cluttering the interface or having to lose valuable data as a result, and then it allows the user to make the changes they truly need. That’s real minimalism.

      New tabs and remote connectivity are killer features. You have the ability to get a visual representation of many arcane, obscure and yet critical system metrics, and today, there are almost no UI software that will show you this. The same goes for remote monitoring. You often need complex third-party tools for this. Plasma lets you do this natively, and in a fun way. Even if you’re no great fan of Plasma, but you’re a techie at heart, I warmly recommend you give this desktop environment a spin. KSysGuard, barring its name, might just be the thing to win your nerdy heart over … Over and out.

    • 6 Best Free Linux Student Information Systems

      A student information system (also known as a student management system or school management system) is computer software for educational institutions to manage student data.

      This type of software typically provides tracking of demographic attributes, gradebooks, tracking student attendance, calendars, reporting, building student schedules, transcripts, and managing many other student-related data needs.

      A student information system is a critical application for educational organisations. They help to automate many daily tasks, and reduce the amount of time spent on administrative functions. By helping teachers to be more productive and informed, this type of software can make a real contribution to the classroom. Parents also have access to data about their children, helping them to make enlightened educational decisions.

      In some respects, a student information system has similarities with Enterprise Resource Planning.

    • Etcher – A Modern USB and SD Card Image Writer Tool for Linux

      If you have been like me looking for alternative image burners to use in Linux apart from the ones commonly mentioned then, here is an easy-to-use and also stylish application for you and yes, those are the exact words to describe this application called Etcher.

      Etcher is an open-source and cross platform application, so it is also available to Windows and Mac OSX users. This application simplifies everything to do with creating bootable USB drives or even Micro SD Cards. It is a project under the management of Resin.io.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

      • Psyonix, creator of Rocket League is joining Epic Games (updated)

        Epic Games don’t seem to be just doing exclusives now, they’re also pulling in studios with Psyonix (Rocket League) announcing today they’re joining Epic Games. Yes, really.

        It hasn’t been completely confirmed just yet though, as they’re waiting on “customary closing conditions”, the usual legal stuff all things like this need to go through basically.

      • Destruction-heavy FPS ‘Sector’s Edge’ is now confirmed to be releasing for Linux

        Recently, I wrote an article pointing out that the voxel-based first person shooter Sector’s Edge might come to Linux, well it’s now confirmed.

        While doing the previous article, I opened a forum post on Steam to give my support to the developer. They replied to mention tests were being done and then I noticed soon after SteamOS + Linux system requirements being added. The developer then replied again to confirm Linux is now going to be supported. That’s a rather nice turnaround!

      • A look over the ProtonDB reports for April 2019, now over forty thousand reports logged

        ProtonDB, the unofficial tracker for checking the status of Windows games played on Linux through Steam Play has another data-dump available. Here’s a look for April 2019. Note: The data dumps often include a few reports past the end of the month, which aren’t counted as we cover them in the next set of reports as we cut-off what we look over at the end of April.

      • Steam Survey Data For April 2019 Shows Only Minor Change In Linux Use

        While Steam Play continues getting in better shape for running more interesting Windows games on Linux, there hasn’t yet been a compelling enough reason for Windows gamers to switch over to Linux and that is reflected in the latest monthly Steam numbers.

        Valve put out their monthly Steam survey numbers last night for April. For March the Steam Linux usage came in at 0.82% while for April it’s at 0.81%.

      • If you’re having trouble running Imperator: Rome, a patch should hopefully be out next week

        Paradox didn’t exactly have the best launch with Imperator: Rome but hopefully some of the most pressing issues will be sorted soon.

        Speaking to Paradox last night, they said to me “I believe there is a patch planned to be released next week; as always if internal testing reveals new problems it may be delayed, but that is the plan at present as I understand it!” so unless something major happens, we should get a better experience next week.

      • After suggesting a developer drop Linux support, Vivox have released a statement

        Vivox, the voice chat middleware used by a number of games that doesn’t currently support Linux recently suggested a developer just drop Linux support. They’ve now reached out to me with a statement.

        It all started when one of the developers from Alderon Games, who are currently working on the MMO dinosaur game Path of Titans, posted this response they received from Vivox into our Discord channel about their request for Linux support (click to enlarge):

      • Boldly going where no block has gone before in Space Impossible

        Tea, Earl Grey, Hot. These are the voyages of the starship Venture in Space Impossible, an open-world sandbox space adventure where every block matters. Think of it like a 2D version of Avorion, complete with both single-player and online/LAN multi-player modes. Everything in the game is made up of little blocks, that can be destroyed and have things attached to them, there’s factions, trading and “Near-real Newtonian physics”.

        Space Impossible is a game I hadn’t properly checked out since writing about it back in March last year, when I found it had a Linux test build available. A long time later, it does now advertise official Linux support and they just recently released an exciting update. Alpha 18 was sent into space earlier this week, with a focus on the combat to make it much more interesting overall. For starters, there’s now weapon control groups giving you a little more freedom over what weapons you want firing and when.

      • Fort Triumph, the fantasy strategy game where the environment is a weapon has the campaign back in

        After re-working major gameplay systems to make everything more interesting, Fort Triumph had the story campaign removed in an earlier update while it was adjusted. A brand new update is out, with it back in and there’s plenty of other changes making it very interesting. Disclosure: Key provided for me.

        Fort Triumph is a turn-based fantasy strategy game, one where the environment can be a weapon. You can kick things into people, kick people into things, drop trees on them and a whole lot more. The idea is fascinating, as someone who loves XCOM it’s great to see that strategy style done a little differently. It’s quite amusing pulling someone with a grappling hook into a tree to damage them, which then causes the tree to fall onto another enemy next to it. Or just walk up to a pillar like the below image and give it a good old kick-over. Lots of silly things like that, good fun.

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE Partition Manager 4.0

        After 1.5 years in development I would like to announce a new version of KDE Partition Manager and KPMcore library.

        The main highlight of this release is that GUI does not need to run as root user. Instead we use KAuth framework (note that in the future we plan to use lower level Polkit API directly but this work is not started yet). GUI runing as unprivileged user also makes our Wayland port work perfectly fine.

      • KDE Partition Manager 4.0 Released After Modernization Improvements
      • March and April in KDE PIM

        The KDE PIM community has been working hard in March and April to fix various bugs and bring new features and improvements to Kontact, Itinerary and other KDE PIM projects. Here is a summary of some of the changes that landed in the past two months.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • SuperX 5.0 “Lamarr” is now available

        After much delay and several long sleepless nights, our team is very proud to release the next flagship version of our operating system – SuperX 5.0 “Lamarr”. This version is dedicated to the Austrian-American film actress and inventor, who is one of the pioneers of wireless communication, the great – Hedy Lamarr.

        With this release, we highlight our approach to innovation, while maintaining our friendliness and focus on design and beauty.

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • The SUSE Academic Program partners with The University of Lahore

        Many are excited about the opportunity to teach Linux to students, including the faculty at the University of Lahore. A newly established academic partnership allows for expansion of Linux and Open Source education at one of the largest private universities in Pakistan.
        Working with the strategic projects and information technology office, the idea is to embed SUSE training and curriculum into elective and compulsory courses for students. Students taking these courses will be able to earn and receive a SUSE certificate alongside their university degree at graduation. With over 4000 students enrolled in various programs under the computing faculty, UOL is excited to leverage the SUSE Academic Program to advance the skills of future graduates.

    • Fedora

      • Fedora 30 Released With GNOME 3.32: Get It Now For A Refreshed Visual Style

        The biggest change in Fedora 30 is the new GNOME 3.32 desktop environment. Over the course of past few releases, GNOME desktop has made many changes to reduce its memory consumption; GNOME 3.32 takes things further and makes things more fluid and snappier by making enhancements in the core GNOME libraries.

        On the visual front, the desktop environment adds a refreshed visual style that makes the overall look more polished. Moreover, the application icons, user icons, buttons, switches, etc., are also redesigned.

        Talking about different packages that are included in the distro, you get the latest GCC 9, PHP 7.3, Bash 5.0, Ruby 2.6, and other apps.

        This release is powered by the latest Linux 5.0, which brings better hardware support and display performance. You also get new features like support for energy-aware scheduling, Btrfs swap file, AMDGPU FreeSync, etc.

        Apart from the default GNOME desktop, Fedora 30 also lets you install other desktop environments if GNOME isn’t your cup of tea.

        With the Fedora 30 release, the cloud and server releases are being combined into the Fedora Server Edition. Also, Fedora CoreOS is replacing Fedora Atomic Host as the container-focused offering. There are other variants as well, including Fedora Spins and Labs.

      • Upgrading Fedora agai

        The process was completed successfully and my system was all ready in two hours, time that included the configuration of the printer/scanner.

    • Debian Family

      • Daniel Pocock: CFP: Next UN Forum on Business and Human Rights 2019

        Attending the forum last year, I was pleased to meet a range of representatives from industry, government and NGOs but despite the fact there were a number of sessions on technical topics like Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain (is there anywhere you can go without encountering Blockchain these days?), I was the only person with a free software background who was present.

      • Derivatives

        • Devuan, April Fools, and self-destruction

          For much of April 1 (or March 31 depending on time zone), the Devuan web site looked like it had been taken over by attackers, which was worrisome to many, but it was all a prank.


          That set off a bit of a panic on the list along with posts showing up on Reddit and Slashdot. Some immediately suspected it was an April Fool’s prank and there were certainly some clues to that (two “prime” numbers were actually Unix timestamps that pointed to April 1 UTC dates in 1970 and 2019). But the fact that Nicosia was prolonging the “joke” (there are a couple of other messages like that in the thread) likely worsened the problem. He did eventually admit to the prank on the list.

          That admission led to some technical admiration for the work that Nicosia had done but also to some predictable complaints about the whole affair. Joking about a security incident for a distribution’s infrastructure is no laughing matter in many circles. The “joke” explanation could also be covering up a real attack or real attackers might have been able to take advantage of the chaos to actually compromise Devuan in some way.


          Another of the Caretakers, Denis “Jaromil” Roio, who was also one of the early leaders and a member of the Veteran Unix Admins (VUA) group that founded Devuan, also posted to the list. He explained that it was “the most [skillful] prank I’ve witnessed in my life”, that Devuan comes with no warranty, and that Nicosia has been “by far the developer making the most significant contributions to this project”. He found the attacks on Nicosia to be unwarranted. That did not pacify Bird, whose aggressive responses eventually led Roio to put him in the moderation queue. But there were still some other rumblings of discontent, though many, perhaps most, were mollified by the apology from Nicosia.


          After that, things seemingly spiraled out of control. Reurich did an upgrade on the continuous integration host that went awry and his explanation of that seemingly intermingled private messages from the Caretakers’ mailing list. Roio took exception to much of what Reurich had said, which led Reurich to consider resigning from the project. Most of the posts in reply to that were supportive of Reurich and of him remaining in the project, though Roio’s response was not particularly welcoming to that idea.

          There is a lot of drama, which, for the most part, Nicosia has stayed out of (as he said that he planned to do when he stepped away). He has popped up a time or two, mostly to suggest participants in the threads find better things to do with their time—hopefully by working on Devuan. But the project is already down one Caretaker and another may be on his way out, which is not likely to be good for the project. It is a bit ironic that an action meant to put a smile on people’s faces—however misguided that may have been—has led to something of a crisis for Devuan.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Erich Eickmeyer: My Linux Fest Northwest 2019 Story

            First thing I did was check-in to my hotel room, then I met up with Valorie Zimmerman (Kubuntu), Simon Quigley (Lubuntu), and quite a few others, including old friend Tyler Brown, and a few new faces such as Darin Miller.


            The next morning, I got to the college early and got my equipment set-up for more demos, which was pointedly more sparse as Sunday tends to be less busy. I headed to two talks that day. The first one I went to was by Ell Marquez entitled “Building Your Community by Poisoning Your Own Well”, where we learned her struggles with Impostor Syndrome, which is something I struggle with as well. Then I saw Emma Marshall’s talk entitled “sudo apt install happiness”, where she talked about System 76’s approach to customer service, which they call their “Happiness Team.” I couldn’t help but think of ways to use some of those methods when providing support to Ubuntu Studio users.

            Afterwards, I headed to the Ubuntu table to pack-up and then head to the final keynote for Linux Fest Northwest 2019, which was a Q&A session with John “Maddog” Hall, Kyle Rankin, and our very own Simon Quigley. Once done there, I headed back to the hall, grabbed anything that was left, said goodbye, and headed home.

            Overall, it was a great experience, and I plan to go again next year. Next stop, whether I want to or not per Valorie, is SeaGL 2019.

          • Ubuntu 14.04 (Trusty Tahr) reached End of Life on April 25 2019 (ESM available)

            This is a follow-up to the Extended Support warning sent a month ago to confirm that as of April 25, 2019, Ubuntu 14.04 LTS basic support has ended. No more package updates[1] will be accepted to the 14.04 primary archive, and any subsequent support will be done via Extended Security Maintenance. Over the coming weeks, various images will be archived, and the primary archive will be copied to old-releases.

          • Mark Shuttleworth On Ubuntu, IPO And OpenStack | Open Infrastructure Summit

            In this episode of Let’s Talk, Mark Shuttleworth, founder, and CEO of Canonical talks about Ubuntu, OpenStack, Canonical IPO, Foundation and how public cloud and open source projects need each other.

          • Canonical Releases “WLCS” Wayland Conformance Suite 1.0

            While Ubuntu is not currently using Wayland by default with its GNOME Shell desktop and it doesn’t look like they will try again until Ubuntu 20.10, the option is still available and they continue working in the direction of a Wayland Linux desktop future. One of their interesting “upstream” contributions in this area is with the Wayland Conformance Suite.

            As part of their Wayland interests and namely as part of developing Mir now with Wayland support, for a while they have been working on the “Wayland Conformance Suite” for testing the Wayland protocols for conformance to the specifications. This is for ensuring Wayland compositors behave correctly against the intentions of the protocols.

          • WLCS 1.0 release!
  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Haiku monthly activity report – 03 and 04/2019

    Hi there! We’re back for monthly (or almost) reports! I was at the JDLL in early april, and while preparing for that I didn’t have time to write a report, and no one else did it. So here we go with a 2 month report, prepare for something a little longer than usual. This report covers hrev52945-hrev53094.

  • Haiku Continues Progress With Its New NVMe Driver, BIOS/UEFI Fixes & More

    The Haiku operating system that continues to be the open-source project living on in the traditions of BeOS is continuing to advance its modern hardware support and application compatibility.

    As covered last month, the Haiku operating system finally features an NVMe storage driver for supporting today’s speedy solid-state drives. This NVMe SSD driver for Haiku has continued to evolve in recent weeks.

  • Creative Commons Search Is Now Out of Beta, Dell Announces Two New Budget-Friendly Mobile Workstations, NS1 Releases Flamethrower, Scalyr Launches PowerQueries and High-Severity Hole Discovered in Oracle WebLogic

    NS1 recently released Flamethrower, “a lightweight, configurable open source tool for functional testing, benchmarking, and stress testing DNS servers and networks.” According to HelpNetSecurity.com, “Flamethrower supports IPv4, IPv6, UDP, TCP, DNS over TLS, as well as experimental support for DNS over QUIC. It has a modular system for generating the queries used in the tests, allowing for rich and realistic test scenarios that can plug into automation pipelines. It simulates multiple concurrent clients and generates actionable metrics, including send and receive counts, timeouts, errors and data on minimum, maximum and average latency.”

  • Crowdsourcing license compliance with ClearlyDefined [Ed: Microsoft agenda is being pushed by Microsoft employees inside the OSI, Red Hat, etc. They learned nothing from Nokia, did they?]

    Open source use continues to skyrocket, not just in use cases and scenarios but also in volume. It is trivial for a developer to depend on a 1,000 JavaScript packages from a single run of npm install or have thousands of packages in a Docker image. At the same time, there is increased interest in ensuring license compliance.

    Without the right license you may not be able to legally use a software component in the way you intend or may have obligations that run counter to your business model. For instance, a JavaScript package could be marked as MIT license, which allows commercial reuse, while one of its dependencies is licensed has a copyleft license that requires you give your software away under the same license. Complying means finding the applicable license(s), and assessing and adhering to the terms, which is not too bad for individual components adn can be daunting for large initiatives.

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla Addons Blog: May’s featured extensions
      • Owning it: browser compatibility data and open source governance

        What does it mean to “own” an open-source project? With the browser-compat-data project (“BCD”), the MDN (Mozilla Developer Network) community and I recently had the opportunity to find out.

        In 2017, the MDN Web Docs team invited me to work on what was described to me as a small, but growing project (previously on Hacks). The little project had a big goal: to provide detailed and reliable structured data about what Web platform features are supported by different browsers. It sounded ambitious, but my part was narrow: convert hand-written HTML compatibility tables on MDN into structured JSON data.

        As a technical writer and consultant, it was an unusual project to get to work on. Ordinarily, I look at data and code and use them to write words for people. For BCD, I worked in the opposite direction: reading what people wrote and turning it into structured data for machines. But I think I was most excited at the prospect of working on an open source project with a lot of reach, something I’d never done before.

      • Migrate to Fluent

        A couple of weeks ago the Localization Team at Mozilla released the Fluent Syntax specification. As mentioned in our announcement, we already have over 3000 Fluent strings in Firefox. You might wonder how we introduced Fluent to a running project. In this post I?ll detail on how the design of Fluent plays into that effort, and how we pulled it off.


        Migrating your code will often be a trivial change from one API to another. Most of your code will get a string and show it, after all. You might convert several different APIs into just one in Fluent, in particular dedicated plural APIs will go away.

        You will also move platform-specific terminology into the localization side, removing conditional code. You should also be able to stop stitching several localized strings together in your application logic.

        As we’ll go through the process here, I’ll show an example of a sentence with a link. The project wants to be really sure the link isn’t broken, so it’s not exposed to localizers at all. This is shortened from an actual example in Firefox, where we link to our privacy policy. We’ll convert to DOM overlays, to separate localizable and non-localizable aspects of the DOM in Fluent. Let’s just look at the HTML code snippet now, and look at the localizations later.

      • Deconstruction of a Failure

        I first want to say that I don’t think MozReview was a total failure. There were many successes, despite the fact that we decommissioned it in favour of another system. Indeed, as I note below, we had quite a big userbase near the end. I am also sure that perspectives on MozReview vary quite a bit among the team that worked on it. These are just the particular failures that I felt most responsible for and, thus, were the most instructive for me.

        That these failures occurred early in my management career was, overall, a good thing. I can say that I learned quite a lot from the project, and it made me a better manager. I apply the lessons I’ve learned to all my team’s projects now, and I try to pass on this knowledge to others, not so they can avoid failure, but so that they can perhaps recognize it earlier than I did.

  • LibreOffice

    • Starting today: The Month of LibreOffice, May 2019 – get cool merchandise!

      LibreOffice is made by a community of developers and supporters around the world. This month, we want to say a big thanks to everyone who helps out – and encourage more people to join our friendly community as well! So how are we going to do this?

    • LibOCon Reminders
    • Reminder: LibOCon 2020 Call for Locations

      The Call for Location for LibreOffice Conference 2020 is open until June 30, 2019. It will be the 10th of a series of successful events: Paris, October 2011; Berlin, October 2012; Milan, September 2013; Bern, September 2014; Aarhus, September 2015; Brno, September 2016; Rome, October 2017; Tirana, September 2018, and Almeria, September 2019. During or around the event we will celebrate the 10th anniversary of the project, which was announced on September 28, 2010.

      The Call for Locations opens well in advance as TDF Board of Directors wants to to give the event organizers the opportunity to attend this year’s conference – in Almeria, Spain, September 11 to 13, 2019 – to familiarize with the community and the structure of the event. For historical and practical reasons, the LibreOffice Conference takes place between September and November, with a preference for September.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)


    • GNU Guix 1.0.0 released

      We are excited to announce the release of GNU Guix version 1.0.0!

      The release comes with ISO-9660 installation images, a virtual machine image, and with tarballs to install the package manager on top of your GNU/Linux distro, either from source or from binaries. Guix users can update by running guix pull.

    • GNU Guix 1.0.0 released
    • GNU Guix 1.0.0 released
    • GNU Guix 1.0.0 released
    • GNU Guix 1.0 System Distribution & Transactional Package Manager Released

      After seven years of development and more than forty-thousand commits, GNU Guix 1.0 has been released. Guix as a refresher is the transactional package manager that can be used atop other Linux distributions while the Guix System Distribution also serves as its own GNU/Linux flavor.

      On the package manager side, GNU Guix 1.0 now supports a -v option to increase verbosity of outputs, various other new sub-commands/options, and other enhancements.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • 5 Best Drag and Drop Builders For WordPress of 2019 [Ed: And proprietary software with "free bait".]

      Depends on your requirements, really. One thing that you need to keep in mind is that the prices are different for different packages, so money is a factor you need to consider before making the decision. For example, Elementor could as well have been the best for beginners had their license not been so restrictive. Also, their Pro version is not GPL.

      Other such drawbacks for other builders make Beaver Builder and Divi clearly the most preferred WordPress page builders. Visual Composer comes very close to these two. So, while there may be a bit of a pocket pinch, you can go for any of these if you want to be on safe hands. Also, while the recent Gutenberg editor holds a lot of promise, it is still going to be a while before it comes anywhere close to any of these powerful builders.

    • Upstream First

      This talk was mostly aimed at managers of engineering teams and projects with fairly little experience in shipping open source, and much less experience in shipping open source through upstream cross vendor projects like the kernel. It goes through all the usual failings and missteps and explains why an upstream first strategy is the right one, but with a twist: Instead of technical reasons, it’s all based on economical considerations of why open source is succeeding. Fundamentally it’s not about the better software, or the cheaper prize, or that the software freedoms are a good thing worth supporting.

      Instead open source is eating the world because it enables a much more competitive software market. And all the best practices around open development are just to enable that highly competitive market. Instead of arguing that open source has open development and strongly favours public discussions because that results in better collaboration and better software we put on the economic lens, and private discussions become insider trading and collusions. And that’s just not considered cool in a competitive market. Similar arguments can be made with everything else going on in open source projects.

    • The sustainability of open source for the long term

      The problem of “sustainability” for open-source software is a common topic of conversation in our community these days. We covered a talk by Bradley Kuhn on sustainability a month ago. Another longtime community member, Luis Villa, gave his take on the problem of making open-source projects sustainable at the 2019 Legal and Licensing Workshop (LLW) in Barcelona. Villa is one of the co-founders of Tidelift, which is a company dedicated to helping close the gap so that the maintainers of open-source projects get paid in order to continue their work.

    • On technological liberty

      In his keynote at the 2019 Legal and Licensing Workshop (LLW), longtime workshop participant Andrew Wilson looked at the past, but he went much further back than, say, the history of free software—or even computers. His talk looked at technological liberty in the context of classical liberal philosophic thinking. He mapped some of that thinking to the world of free and open-source software (FOSS) and to some other areas where our liberties are under attack.

      He began by showing a video of the band “Tears for Fears” playing their 1985 hit song “Everybody wants to rule the world”, though audio problems made it impossible to actually hear the song; calls for Wilson to sing it himself were shot down, perhaps sadly, though he and the audience did give the chorus a whirl. In 1985, the band members were young and so was open source, he said. But there were new digital synthesizers available, with an open standard (MIDI) that allowed these instruments to talk to one another. It freed musicians from the need for expensive studio time, since they could write and polish their music anywhere: a great example of technological freedom.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • A Raspberry Pi is a Hardware Hacker’s Swiss Army Knif

        By now most of us have used a Raspberry Pi at some level or another. As a headless server it’s a great tool because of its price point, and as an interface to the outside world the GPIO pins are incredibly easy to access with a simple Python script. For anyone looking for guidance on using this device at a higher level, though, [Arun] recently created a how-to for using some of the Pi’s available communications protocols.

        Intended to be a do-everything “poor man’s hardware hacking tool” as [Arun] claims, his instruction manual details all the ways that a Raspberry Pi can communicate with other devices using SPI and I2C, two of the most common methods of interacting with other hardware beyond simple relays. If you need to go deeper, the Pi can also be used as a full JTAG interface or SWD programmer for ARM chips. Naturally, UART serial is baked in. What more do you need?

      • [Older] Raspberrypi as poor man’s hardware hacking too
      • This Person Made A DIY Smartwatch From Scratch And It’s Amazing!

        The round-shaped smartwatch comprises four major blocks; the power block (for battery), the sensors block (for accelerometer), the actuators block (for the vibration motor and screen to connect), and the BLE block (for Bluetooth LE connection) with a Dialog Semiconductor DA14683 chip.

        Furthermore, there is also some internal memory to store some images in the smartwatch.

      • The making of the Breaking the Code electronic book

        I designed two parts to the electronics within the book. Half the circuits were developed with copper tape, LEDs, and DIY buttons, and half were developed with LilyPad Arduino microcontrollers, sensors, LEDs, and DIY buttons. Using the electronics in the book, the girls could make pages light up, buzz, or play music using various inputs such as button presses, page turns, or tilting the book.

  • Programming/Development


  • Science

    • Self-taught programmer solves 20-year-old cryptographic puzzle

      A cryptographic puzzle designed by Ron Rivest back in 1999 has been prematurely solved by a self-taught Belgian programmer named Bernard Fabrot.

    • Time Machine: Re-Visiting the Golden Age of Greek Science

      I gave a lecture recently at the Hellenic Library at Bellflower, California. I spoke about the Antikythera Mechanism: a 2,200 years-old computer that predicted the eclipses of the Sun and the Moon and tracked the positions of the planets. This machine worked with gears, that is, scientific technology. This technology was so advanced it took nearly 2,000 years before it appeared in Europe in the eighteenth century.

      I explained how and the why the Greeks were almost “modern” so many centuries before modern times. I illustrated my talk with 160 images from ancient Greek culture: ceramic vases, other archaeological artifacts, icons of ancient Greek scientific manuscripts, books and instruments, and exquisite computed tomography images of the outside and x-ray pictures of the inside of the largest mechanism fragments.

      These high tech images revealed the secrets of the astronomical machine: on the front surface, there are dials of the Sun, Moon and lost dials for the planets; two concentric circles of the 365-day year calendar and the Zodiac divided into twelve sections for twelve constellations. The front view also includes astronomical inscriptions.

      The back surface has two spirals: the upper one is divided into 235 sections representing the 19-year Metonic calendar of 235 months. Metonic comes from Meton, an Athenian astronomer of the fifth century BCE. The lower spiral is divided into 223 sections of the 18-year eclipses prediction Saros cycle. Inscriptions also elucidate these calendars.

    • The Vintage Computer Festival East Is Happening This Weekend

      2019 is a fantastic year for computer history, being the 50th anniversary of Unix, and the 40th anniversary of Atari. For that, there will be exhibits of dozens of systems running some sort of *nix, including systems from Apple, AT&T, DEC, IBM, NeXT, SGI, and Sun. For the Atari extravaganza, you’re getting the full line of Atari 8-bitters, some STs, and a Falcon 030. There will be other exhibits about POTS, so bring a landline phone, a progress update on a 1/10th scale, pulse-level simulator of the ENIAC, and someone will assuredly have Super Mario Brothers for the C64 running.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Neptune Generics, LLC v. Eli Lilly & Co. (Fed. Cir. 2019)

      Last week, in Neptune Generics, LLC v. Eli Lilly & Co., the Federal Circuit affirmed a determination by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Patent Trial and Appeal Board in an inter partes review that claims 1-22 of U.S. Patent No. 7,772,209 were not unpatentable for obviousness. In affirming the Board’s decision, the Federal Circuit found that the Board did not err in conducting its obviousness analysis and that substantial evidence supported the Board’s factual findings. The Federal Circuit also noted that the issue of subject matter eligibility was not properly before the Court.

      The ’209 patent, which is owned by Eli Lilly & Co., is directed to methods of administering folic acid and a methylmalonic acid (“MMA”) lowering agent, such as vitamin B12, before administering pemetrexed disodium, a chemotherapy agent, in order to reduce the toxic effects of pemetrexed, an antifolate. Antifolates slow the ability of cells to divide by inhibiting enzymes that the cells use to make the components of DNA and RNA, but as a result, also have toxic effects that can be life threatening.

    • Green Groups Say Trump EPA Backing Monsanto’s Claim Glyphosate Not a Health Threat ‘Completely Ignores Science’

      Environmentalists swiftly slammed the Trump administration Tuesday for reaffirming the federal government’s position that the world’s most widely used herbicide poses no threat to public health—despite other global experts tying it to cancer.

      After conducting a safety review of the weed killer, the Environmental Protection Agency said in a statement Tuesday that “EPA continues to find that there are no risks to public health when glyphosate is used in accordance with its current label and that glyphosate is not a carcinogen.”

    • EPA Backs Industry on Cancer Risks of World’s Most Widely Used Herbicide
    • Trump EPA Sides With Bayer/Monsanto Over Science, Claims Cancer-Causing Weedkiller ‘Safe’
    • Medicare for All in the Spotlight at Historic Congressional Hearing

      After many years of tireless grassroots activism led by nurses, doctors, and ordinary Americans fighting for a just healthcare system, Medicare for All will finally get its first-ever congressional hearing on Tuesday before the House Rules Committee.

      “Who has ever created change by thinking small? The scale of the crisis in healthcare is so enormous that we have to think big and be bold,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), the lead sponsor of the Medicare for All Act of 2019 in the House, said ahead of Tuesday’s hearing. “We are creating a movement that makes it clear that when we win Medicare for All, it will be because of the people’s movement!”

      Ady Barkan, who is battling terminal ALS, is one of just two Medicare for All supporters testifying at the hearing.

    • Time to End the Use of M-44 Cyanide Bombs

      Earth Day was last Monday, and I would like to suggest a gift of immense value that USDA Wildlife Services could give to all the residents of Idaho: A permanent end to the use of M-44 ‘cyanide bombs’ statewide.

      These devices are planted like land mines to poison coyotes and other wildlife, and employ spring-loaded charges of sodium cyanide that can also deliver a toxic dose to family pets, non-target wildlife, and even kids and adults.

      An M-44 planted by Wildlife Services poisoned 14-year-old Canyon Mansfield and killed his family dog, Kasey, on the outskirts of Pocatello in March of 2017. An incident with an M-44 near Vernal, Utah poisoned local rockhound Dennis Slaugh in 2002, forcing him into permanent disability and ultimately leading to his death last year.

      In response to the Pocatello incident, Western Watersheds Project and our allies petitioned Wildlife Services, the federal agency that deploys the deadly devices at the behest of the livestock industry, to impose a permanent moratorium on M-44 use statewide.

      The agency committed to an interim moratorium of indeterminate length, committing to inform WWP some 30 days in advance of resumption of deployment of these deadly devices. Wildlife Services has been good to its word so far, to the best of our knowledge.

    • I’m Dying From ALS and Here’s My Message: No More Half Measures. Only Medicare for All

      Chairman McGovern and members of the committee, thank you for inviting me to testify today. My name is Ady Barkan. I am thirty-five years old and I live in Santa Barbara, California with my brilliant wife Rachael and our beautiful toddler Carl. She is an English professor at the University of California Santa Barbara and I am an organizer at the Center for Popular Democracy and the Be A Hero project.

      I earned my bachelor’s degree from Columbia University with a major in economics and my law degree from Yale Law School. For twenty years, since I was a freshman on my high school debate team, I have been giving speeches and presentations on topics like health care reform and the Federal budget.


      The ugly truth is this: health care is not treated as a human right in the United States of America. This fact is outrageous. And it is far past time that we change it. Say it loud for the people in the back: health care is a human right.

      For my family, although we have comparatively good private health insurance, ALS now means paying out of pocket for almost 24-hour home care. This costs us nine thousand dollars, every month. The alternative is for me to go on Medicare and move into a nursing home, away from my wife and my son. So we are cobbling together the money, from friends and family and supporters all over the country. But this is an absurd way to run a healthcare system. GoFundMe is a terrible substitute for smart Congressional action.

    • Doctors Want to Test ‘Abortion Reversal’ — and Anti-Choicers Aren’t Happy

      When the idea of reversing a medication abortion first began to spread, it was based on the experiences of just seven pregnant people. Now, half a decade later, abortion opponents have made “abortion reversal” a mainstay of their advocacy.

      Anti-choicers have pushed for multiple states to tell patients that medication abortions are reversible and provide information on how that procedure can be performed. Clinic protestors shout at patients that they can still reverse their abortions as they leave their appointments. And abortion opponents have made an entire “abortion reversal” division inside their crisis pregnancy networks.

      As “abortion reversal” gains momentum, the movement’s only real obstacle is the naysayers who claim that the protocol doesn’t work. Anti-abortion activists could easily dispel those critics, thanks to a new study being conducted by medical practitioners. So why are they opposed to the idea?

  • Security

    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • Introducing OpenBSD 3.9

      OpenBSD began life as a fork of NetBSD, the oldest of the currently active BSD projects. A personality clash between Theo de Raadt and the rest of the NetBSD team lead to Theo’s access to the project’s CVS tree being revoked.

      At the time, the standard way of developing F/OSS was for a small group of developers to have access to a private CVS repository. They would then publish periodic snapshots of the tree for download. One of Theo’s first acts after leaving NetBSD was to create a public anonymous CVS server containing his local copy of the NetBSD tree, including the improvements he had not been allowed to commit to the main tree.

      This transparency in the development process gave the new project the name OpenBSD. The openness is reflected in the project’s license philosophy. Most of the base system is BSD licensed, with a few MIT licensed or public domain pieces. A few GPL’d components, such as the GNU Compiler Collection, are permitted but only in cases where no alternative is available with a more permissive license. Closed-source code is not permitted in the base system at all.

    • Best Linux Distros for Ethical Hacking and Penetration Testing

      It is developed by Offensive Security as the rewrite of BackTrack and tops our list as one of the best operating systems for hacking purposes. This Debian-based OS comes with 500+ preinstalled pen testing tools and applications that make your security toolbox richer to start along. These flexible tools are frequently updated and are offered for different platforms like ARM and VMware. Kali Linux is also feasible for a forensic job as it comes with a live boot capability that provides a perfect environment for vulnerability detection.

    • Don’t Wait for Official Inspections to Maintain Security [Ed: The NSA is lecturing us on maintaining security while it is actively putting back doors in every single thing]
    • Shellbot malware evolves to spread and shuts down other cryptominers [Ed: Maybe Microsoft Zack should focus more on coverage of Microsoft Windows back doors (deliberate ones) rather than "SSH brute force technique" (i.e. bad passwords) in GNU/Linux]
    • New ransomware variant targets Oracle WebLogic on Windows
    • Citrix says hackers were in its network for six months [Ed: Citrix proprietary software. They lied or withheld details of a breach for this long. This is criminal.]

      Multinational software company Citrix Systems says a breach of its internal network took place six months earlier than it initially announced.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • The End of War Is Just a Beginning

      Here’s a question worth asking about America’s seemingly endless global conflicts: if you kill somebody and there’s no one there (on our side anyway), is the United States still at war? That may prove to be the truly salient question when it comes to the future of America’s war on terror, which is now almost 18 years old and encompasses significant parts of the Greater Middle East and North Africa. Think of it, if you want, as the artificial intelligence, or AI, question.

      It’s not, however, the question that Washington is obsessing over. Retired military officials, defense outlets, and pundits alike have instead been pontificating about what it means for the Department of Defense and key Trump officials to regularly insist that the country’s national security focus is shifting — from a struggle against insurgent groups like al-Qaeda and the Islamic State to the growing influence of what are termed “near-peer” enemies, a fancy phrase for China and Russia. Speculation about what this refocusing will look like has only grown in the wake of President Trump’s various tweets and statements declaring that America’s endless wars will be coming to a “glorious end” and how “now is the time to bring our troops back home.”

      What’s been missing from this conversation is an answer to what should be a relatively easy question: Is the war on terror really being dumped to focus on great power competition?

      After President Trump announced in December that he was pulling all 2,000 American troops out of Syria because “we have won against ISIS,” White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders clarified that this does not “signal the end of the global coalition or its campaign.” Breaking with Trump, the Pentagon soon clarified further: 1,000 of those troops will, in fact, remain in Syria, and the U.S.-led coalition will continue its airstrikes and coordinated attacks until the “enduring defeat of ISIS.” Since then, those airstrikes (and accompanying civilian casualties) have only risen.

      Almost simultaneously, reports surfaced that Trump had ordered the Pentagon to pull 7,000 of the approximately 14,000 soldiers in Afghanistan out as part of a bigger plan to draw down the war there. After bipartisan outrage, the administration quickly walked this back, too.


      The drone strikes of remote warfare have already changed how Americans think about the wars being carried out in their name (if they think about them at all). On election day 2018, for instance, journalist Ezra Klein made the claim that “America isn’t at war.” Although he was subsequently dragged on Twitter for the statement, it points to a bigger problem: America’s wars have become so invisible that even people who theoretically might report on them seem to be forgetting about them.

    • Russia opens first passport center to process fast-tracked citizenship for residents of eastern Ukraine

      The first passport center in Russia set up to bestow fast-tracked citizenship to residents of the self-declared Luhansk People’s Republic is now online in the city of Novoshakhtinsk, in Russia’s Rostov region, federal officials told the news agency Interfax. The office is reportedly running according to “test mode,” as the Russian government evaluates the demand from LNR residents and decides how many other passport centers to open.

      The new center is capable of processing 200 citizenship applications a day. LNR residents do not need to come physically to the office in Russia: paperwork can be submitted at facilities in Luhansk, and it’s then transmitted to Novoshakhtinsk.

    • Leaked: USA’s Feb 2018 Plan for Coup in Venezuela

      This document was personally signed by Admiral Kurt W. Tidd, who was the Commander (the chief), at SOUTHCOM, and he was thus the top U.S. military official handling Venezuela. But this was far more than just a military plan. It was comprehensive — directing military, diplomatic, and propaganda, policies — regarding the Trump Administration’s planned “Overthrow” of Venezuela’s Government. His plan has since guided the Administration’s entire operation, including “the capacities of the psychological war,” regarding Venezuela.

    • Venezuela and Binary Choice

      Juan Guaido has been groomed for 15 years as a long-term CIA project. His coup attempt yesterday, which so far appears to have stalled, was the culmination of these efforts to return Venezuela’s oil reserves to US hegemony.

      It is strange how the urgent installation of liberal democracy by force correlates so often with oil reserves not aligned to the USA, as in Libya, Iraq or Venezuela, while countries with massive oil reserves which permit US military domination and align with the West and Israel can be as undemocratic as they wish, eg Saudi Arabia. Venezuela is an imperfect democracy but it is far, far more of a democracy than Saudi Arabia and with a much better human rights record. The hypocrisy of Western media and politicians is breathtaking.

      Hypocrisy and irony are soulmates, and there are multiple levels of irony in seeing the “liberal” commentators who were cheering on an undisguised military coup, then complaining loudly that people are being injured or killed now their side is losing. Yesterday the MSM had no difficulty in calling the attempted coup what anybody with eyes and ears could see it plainly was, an attempted military coup.

    • Venezuela: It’s Only a Coup if the US Government Says So – Media side with Trump cronies rather than common sense in labeling coup a ‘protest’

      It’s Groundhog Day again in Venezuela, as the local conservative opposition has launched another attempt to oust President Nicolás Maduro from power. Surrounded by a few hardcore supporters, Washington-backed self-appointed president Juan Guaidó on April 30 called on the military to rise up and overthrow the democratically elected Maduro. Guaidó, a man who has never even stood for president, attempted the same thing in January, and the opposition has attempted to remove Maduro, and his predecessor Hugo Chávez, on many occasions, including in 2017, 2014, 2013, 2002 and 2001.

      Despite bearing the clear hallmarks of a coup—defined as “the violent overthrow or alteration of an existing government by a small group”—US media have overwhelmingly supported it, as they have past attempts (FAIR.org, 1/25/19, 5/16/18, 4/18/02). CNN (4/30/19) told the United States that it must “root for the people” of Venezuela, before explicitly stating, “Rooting for the Venezuelan people means hoping that Maduro will step down”—thus underlining the phenomenon noted by FAIR (1/31/19) that to corporate media, “the people” of Venezuela are whoever agrees with the US government. CNN (4/30/19) also used images of Guaidó’s paramilitaries (identifiable by their blue armbands) to illustrate a report claiming the forces of “socialist dictator” Maduro were “mowing down citizens in the streets.”

    • Zero Percent of Elite Commentators Oppose Regime Change in Venezuela

      A FAIR survey of US opinion journalism on Venezuela found no voices in elite corporate media that opposed regime change in that country. Over a three-month period (1/15/19–4/15/19), zero opinion pieces in the New York Times and Washington Post took an anti-regime change or pro-Maduro/Chavista position. Not a single commentator on the big three Sunday morning talkshows or PBS NewsHour came out against President Nicolás Maduro stepping down from the Venezuelan government.

      Of the 76 total articles, opinion videos or TV commentator segments that centered on or gave more than passing attention to Venezuela, 54 (72 percent) expressed explicit support for the Maduro administration’s ouster. Eleven (14 percent) were ambiguous, but were only classified as such for lack of explicit language. Reading between the lines, most of these were clearly also pro-regime change. Eleven (14 percent) took no position, but many similarly offered ideological ammo for those in support.

      The Times published 22 pro-regime change commentaries, three ambiguous and five without a position. The Post also spared no space for the pro-Chavista camp: 22 of its articles expressed support for the end to Maduro’s administration, eight were ambiguous and four took no position. Of the 12 TV opinions surveyed, 10 were pro-regime change and two took no position.

      (The Times and Post pieces were found through a Nexis search for “Venezuela” between 1/15/19–4/15/19 using each paper as a source, narrowed to opinion articles and editorials. The search was supplemented with an examination of each outlet’s opinion/blog pages. The TV commentary segments were found through Nexis searches for “Venezuela” and the name of the talkshow during the same time period, in the folders of the corresponding television network: NBC News/CBS News transcripts, ABC News transcripts, and PBS NewsHour. Non-opinion TV news segments were omitted. The full list of items included can be found here.)

    • Trump Administration Launched Yet Another Attempt To Force Confrontation In Venezuela And Topple Maduro

      With the support of President Donald Trump’s administration, Venezuela opposition leader Juan Guaido attempted to force yet another violent confrontation that would help the opposition remove Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro from power.

      Guaido appeared in a video with a “group of heavily armed national guardsmen.” He urged citizens to join these soldiers in “Operation Freedom.”

      Standing by Guaido, who proclaimed himself president in January, was Leopoldo Lopez, a personal mentor. Apparently, security forces freed Lopez from house arrest. He was arrested on charges of arson, public incitement, and conspiracy that stemmed from his involvement in violence during a coup attempt in 2014.

      The renewed call for rebellion led a group of opposition activists to storm the gates of the La Carlota military base in Caracas. They reportedly hurled Molotov cocktails and stones but were unable to take over the base.

      Venezuelan security forces responded with tanks to disperse the opposition, and footage was broadcast on CNN as “graphic” video that showed the brutality of Maduro’s government. But the very short clip did not show what led tanks to be deployed in the first place.

    • This US-Backed Rightwing Coup Attempt in Venezuela Must Be Condemned

      I am watching the cable news coverage of the latest escalation of the U.S.-orchestrated attempted coup in Venezuela. And I am disgusted. As far as I can tell from checking out a broader variety of news sources, the violent protests called by self-proclaimed president Juan Guaido are relatively small and pathetic.

      A more robust war is being waged, however, on the cable networks themselves. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tells CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that “we only care about the welfare of the Venezuelan people.” Which makes Venezuela pretty darn special. Since when do Trump, Pence, Bolton, Pompeo, Abrams and Rubio care about anybody but the billionaires whom they serve?

      “It’s not a coup,” says National Security Advisor John Bolton. Because we have already declared Juan Guaido to be our hand-picked president in Venezuela. So Guaido can do anything he wants, and so can we. It’s not a coup, they claim. And night is day.

      Pompeo and Bolton blame the Cubans and the Russians for supporting the democratically-elected president of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro. They threaten the Russians with consequences, but they save their bitterest bile for the “Cuban thugs.” Thugs? Who are the thugs? Who are the punks? Who are the bullies? Let me say their names again. Donald Trump. Mike Pence. John Bolton. Mike Pompeo. Elliott Abrams. Marco Rubio.

    • Social Unrest as Obstacle to Colombian Military Intervention in Venezuela

      Rightwing Colombian governments, obedient to the United States and unhappy with socialist Venezuela, have provided muscle behind the U.S. push for regime change there. What are the capacities of Colombia to intervene militarily in Venezuela? The mainstream and alternative media offer little in this regard. The argument here is that political instability in Colombia is standing in the way of that country’s military forces intervening more than is presently the case.

      Colombian paramilitaries, numbering 15,000, are operating in 10 western Venezuelan states. Most of them work for or cooperate with landowners and businesspeople. They control travel routes, local economies, food supplies, and even health care and schools. Crossing a border porous in both directions, they engage in narco-trafficking, smuggling of goods and people, private security, arms-trafficking, kidnapping, casinos, currency trading, land theft, illegal mining, terrorism, and military combat. They arrived in Venezuela in 1997.

      In the early 1960s U.S. military advisors recommended that Colombia’s government use paramilitaries to combat leftist insurgencies. According to one analyst, they are “recruited by and received training from the Colombian military and intelligence … The military and the paramilitary groups worked in coordination to root out entire populations.” Colombia’s National Center for Historical Memory blames paramilitaries for causing 94.754 deaths in Colombia, mostly of civilians, over the course of 50 years.

    • Pompeo Says US Prepared to Take Military Action in Venezuela “If That’s What’s Required”

      Going a step beyond the “all options are on the table” platitudes consistently parroted by Trump administration officials, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday the U.S. is prepared to take military action in Venezuela “if that’s what’s required.”

      “The president has been crystal clear and incredibly consistent—military action is possible,” Pompeo said in an interview on Fox Business.

      Trump administration officials are “trying to do everything we can to avoid violence,” Pompeo said, even as the White House expressed unequivocal support for the “military uprising” led by Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guiado.

      “In the event that there comes a moment—and we’ll all have to make decisions about when that moment is and the president will ultimately have to make that decision—he’s prepared to do that if that’s what’s required,” said the Secretary of State.

    • Mike Pence Confirms: ‘We Are With’ Coup Plotters in Venezuela

      Vice President Mike Pence confirmed Tuesday that the Trump administration is firmly on the side of the coup plotters in Venezuela as violent clashes between the elected government and opposition forces led by Juan Guaido quickly escalated.

      “To Juan Guaido, the National Assembly, and all the freedom-loving people of Venezuela who are taking to the streets today in Operacion Libertad—Estamos con ustedes! We are with you!” Pence tweeted. “America will stand with you until freedom and democracy are restored. Vayan con dios!”

    • Message From Caracas

      Last Saturday we went to a March to celebrate the finalization, after a two year wait, of Venezuela’s departure from the OAS. We saw hundreds of militia members. There seem to be as many women as men–my subjective impression–and a large proportion of people of very advanced age. We met a group the next day in their khaki uniforms, strolling through the Plaza Bolivar. One lady told us she is 70 years old. Many others we have seen could be that age, along with more of middle age. The militia is voluntary of course. They train regularly with Kalashnikovs. There are at least a million and a half and they are aiming to recruit more than two million

      My computer is not working so I am laboriously writing on my phone. Thus I will be brief.

      The streets of Caracas were very normal today except for a big concentration of Chavistas around Miraflores presidential palace. One of our delegation went to the Altamira area and saw about 200 demonstrators, far from the thousands reported by some media. The guardian ran a video from weeks ago fraudulently implying it was today. We were in that area today and the scene was completely peaceful.

      Guaido’s assault on La Carlota military airport was farcical. I don’t have all the details but one thing has emerged: most of the soldiers involved had been told that they were going there to receive an award and were surprised when they were arrested. They were tricked into being there. No doubt details will come out eventually.

      There is food in stores and restaurants and everything seems quite normal on the streets. They did close the subways early today and tomorrow, just to be on the safe side. The biggest problem we have had is from the fact that a lot of electronic equipment in our hotel is malfunctioning due to the interruptions in electric service–we are told that is common. Also, there are fewer cars on the road due to lack of spare parts.

    • It’s Looking Like Another Failed Coup Attempt by the US and Its Puppet Guaidó in Venezuela

      The imperialist neocons infesting the Trump administration, and the orange-faced joke of a president himself, may think they can invent their own reality through propaganda, as Bush’s “brain” Karl Rove used to claim about the Bush/Cheney administration, but when it comes to Latin America, they fail to realize how deeply the people of that continent loath and resent the US and its colonial-era Monroe Doctrine.

      The failure of the latest coup plotted so carefully in the war rooms of the White House, Pentagon and CIA was pre-ordained as soon as it became clear that Washington’s chosen puppet Juan Gerardo Guaidó Márquez was nothing more than a creation of theirs, meant to do the bidding of the plotters in DC.

      By the time Guaidó appeared on a bridge in Caracas flanked by some allegedly defecting troops and by the opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, whom defecting Venezuelan soldiers had reportedly released from house arrest where he had been sentenced for fomenting violence, Guaidó’s attempt to create a coup by televising a staged one was already collapsing around him.

      In short order, troops and officers who had supported Guaidó began entering foreign embassies like Brazil’s and Chile’s and Spain’s, seeking asylum, while others claimed they had been tricked into going to Guaido’s “coup event” and fled when they realized what they were being made a part of. Opposition leader Lopez, meanwhile, recognizing that the attempt to manufacture a coup through faked reporting of one underway had failed, quickly slipped away from Guaido’s side and, calling on his family to meet him, sought asylum in the Chilean embassy (he later moved with them to the nicer and perhaps safer quarters of the Spanish embassy).

    • Internet Restrictions Reported as Venezuela Crisis Intensifies

      A group that monitors internet censorship says Venezuela’s state run internet provider has been restricting access to YouTube and Google services following the opposition leader’s call for the military to revolt against President Nicolás Maduro.

      The non-governmental NetBlocks group says access to the services remains intermittently available since the restrictions don’t appear to be completely effective.

      It says Twitter, Facebook and several other services were briefly restricted earlier, although core internet connectivity remains unaffected.

      It says past incidents of network filtering in Venezuela have lasted from 12 minutes to over 20 hours.

    • Discuss: The Coup in Venezuela

      There is a coup happening in Venezuela. Not the rather sad, fizzling, slow-motion coup that has been beavering away behind the scenes for months, if not years. An actual violent attempt to overthrow the government by force.


      But the coup has got to happen right now, or it’s over. In fact, part of Juan Guaido’s desperation is probably a realisation that he is rapidly approaching the point where he becomes more valuable to his CIA handlers dead than alive. Once it’s apparent he’ll never be President, the CIA could easily decide to “Nemstov” Guaido and lay the crime at Maduro’s feet.

      The Western response has been fairly predictable, totally organic and not-at-all contrived “demonstrations” have sprung up outside the Venezuelan embassies in the US and a few other countries.

    • “If This Isn’t an ‘Armed Coup,’ Then What the Hell Is?” US Denounced for Backing Attempted Overthrow in Venezuela

      “If this isn’t an ‘armed coup,’ then what the hell is?!” the peace group CodePink asked on Twitter after Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), one of the most prominent cheerleaders of Guaido’s ongoing attempt to overthrow Venezuela’s elected government, denied that the opposition’s efforts amounted to a coup plot.

      National security adviser John Bolton’s echoed Rubio’s insistence that Guaido’s actions—supported by group of heavily armed soldiers—”is not a coup.”

      In response, Gerry Condon of Veterans for Peace wrote for Common Dreams, “And night is day.”

      “[Secretary of State Mike] Pompeo and Bolton blame the Cubans and the Russians for supporting the democratically-elected president of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro,” wrote Condon. “They threaten the Russians with consequences, but they save their bitterest bile for the ‘Cuban thugs.’ Thugs? Who are the thugs? Who are the punks? Who are the bullies? Let me say their names again. Donald Trump. Mike Pence. John Bolton. Mike Pompeo. Elliott Abrams. Marco Rubio.”

      Following a day of chaos sparked by the Guaido-led “uprising”—which resulted in dozens of injuries and at least one death—Venezuela’s elected President Nicolas Maduro delivered a speech late Tuesday declaring victory over the “coup-mongering far right.”

      “They failed in their plan. They failed in their call, because the people of Venezuela want peace,” Maduro said.

    • Biden Sides With Trump, Bolton, and Pompeo in Backing Coup Effort in Venezuela

      Despite progressive critics and anti-war voices speaking forcefully against the Trump administration’s overt backing of the attempted coup d’état by rightwing opposition forces in Venezuela on Tuesday, 2020 Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden aligned himself with the White House by throwing his support behind the overthrow effort.

      “The violence in Venezuela today against peaceful protesters is criminal,” Biden tweeted on Tuesday. “Maduro’s regime is responsible for incredible suffering. The U.S. must stand with the National Assembly & Guaidó in their efforts to restore democracy through legitimate, internationally monitored elections.”

      But what Biden embraced as an effort to “restore democracy,” many foreign policy experts—ones not willing to give the benefit of the doubt to people like national security advisor John Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and President Donald Trump—called something else entirely: a violent effort by Venezuela’s rightwing elites, led by Juan Guaidó, to overthrow the elected government of President Nicols Maduro.

    • ‘The Moment Is Now’: Clashes Erupt After US-Backed Guaido Calls for Military Uprising in Venezuela

      The elected government of Venezuela said it is working to put down a right-wing coup attempt after U.S.-backed opposition leader Juan Guaido called for a military uprising in a video posted to Twitter Tuesday morning.

      “The moment is now,” said Guaido, who was flanked by dozens of heavily armed soldiers and armored vehicles. “People of Venezuela, it is necessary that we all go out into the streets, to support democracy and recover our liberty. Organized and united, we should move to the main military installations.”

    • As Venezuela Coup Attempt Fails to Overthrow Maduro, Guaidó Calls for More Street Protests

      Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro is claiming to have defeated a coup attempt launched by opposition leader Juan Guaidó, the president of the Venezuelan National Assembly. On Tuesday morning, Guaidó appeared in an online video standing among heavily armed soldiers, calling for the military to back what he called the “final phase” of an effort to topple Maduro’s government. Guiadó appeared alongside Leopoldo López, a longtime opposition leader, who was reportedly released from house arrest by renegade officers. Guaidó has been attempting to topple the Venezuelan government since January, when he declared himself to be Venezuela’s interim president. The Trump administration, as well as Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and others, openly supported the coup attempt. Earlier today, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox Business that military action in Venezuela is possible, “if that’s what is required.” We speak to Miguel Tinker Salas, Venezuelan historian and professor at Pomona College.

    • The National Rifle Association Is in Extremely Deep Trouble

      Wayne LaPierre, CEO and executive vice president of the National Rifle Association (NRA), got in a fight last week with NRA president and Iran/Contra pardonee Oliver North over the present and future of the organization. The latter accused the former of hiding vast financial improprieties, motivating the former to accuse the latter of being a blackmailing liar. North fought LaPierre’s law and LaPierre won, but the NRA may wind up losing everything in the end if it is determined to have abused its tax-exempt nonprofit status, which all available evidence suggests it most certainly has. Personally, I was hoping a large cow would fall on both men, but there’s a song about that, too.

      For the moment, LaPierre has maintained control over the notoriously far-right gun advocacy group. North was ousted as president over the weekend and replaced by Carolyn Meadows, chairwoman of the Stone Mountain Memorial Association board of directors. Stone Mountain, which looms like a granite skull over a park in Georgia, is a 400-foot tall monument depicting Confederate leaders Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson which Smithsonian magazine describes as “a testament to the enduring legacy of white supremacy.” Meadows also sits on the board of the American Conservative Union, which annually hosts the genuinely terrifying Conservative Political Action Conference.

      So yeah, not so much with the change from within for the NRA. The point may soon be moot, though. Thanks to the office of the New York State attorney general, the NRA is facing an existential crisis unparalleled in its long and sordid history.

    • Led by US Under Trump, Global Military Spending Soared to Highest Level in Recorded History Last Year

      Global military spending reached its highest level since the records began two decades ago, according to a new analysis released Monday—an increase led by the United States and China.

      The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) revealed in its latest annual report that countries around the world collectively poured $1.82 trillion into their militaries in 2018, a 2.6 percent rise from the previous year. Together, the top two spenders, the United States and China, accounted for about half of all spending.

      “The increase in U.S. spending was driven by the implementation from 2017 of new arms procurement program under the Trump administration,” Aude Fleurant, director of SIPRI’s Arms and Military Expenditure (AMEX) program, said in a statement.

    • The Secretary of the Navy Lied to Congress

      Read this Military.com article from Friday: “Do U.S. High Schools Bar Military Recruiters? Activists Try to Call Pentagon’s Bluff.” It discusses the offer that Pat Elder and I made to award funding to any school that could be identified as one of the over 1,100 public high schools that the Secretary of the Navy told Congress in December bar military recruiters. The article states:

      “Addressing members of the Senate Armed Services Committee in December, Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer described an ‘excess of 1,100 schools and districts that deny access to uniform members to recruit on campuses,’ mainly in the northeast and northwestern United States, he said. And Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Ronald Green in January said there are ‘just some places where we are not allowed to recruit.’”

      If you watch the video of Spencer’s statement, you’ll note that one Congress Member sounded initially surprised by the bizarre claim, but Senator Joni Ernst jumped in to act as if she was totally familiar with it. And that was the end of the reaction from the House Armed Services Committee, the Senate Armed Services Committee, and — as far as I have been able to learn — any of the committees’ members. None of them later asked to see a list of the 1,100 schools or even an example of one. None of them inquired whether all of those schools should simply be allowed to violate the hyper-militaristic laws of the United States which actually forbid giving military recruiters less access than is given to college or job recruiters. Not a single member of Congress or the media, as far as I’ve been able to determine, so much as raised the possibility that Spencer’s list of recruitment-free schools was as real as had been Senator McCarthy’s list of communists in the government.

    • Who Will Be the War Candidate in 2020?

      “The president has said he doesn’t want to see this country wrapped up in endless wars… and I agree with that,” Bernie Sanders said to the Fox News audience last week at Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Then, looking directly at the camera, he added: “Mr. President, tonight you have the opportunity to do something extraordinary: sign that resolution. Saudi Arabia must not determine the military or foreign policy of this country.”

      Sanders was talking about a resolution on the War Powers Act that would put an end to U.S. involvement in the 5-year civil war in Yemen. This war has created one of the biggest humanitarian crises in the world of our time, with thousands of children dead in the middle of a cholera epidemic and famine.

      Supported by a Democratic Party united in Congress, and an anti-interventionist faction of the Republican Party headed by Senators Rand Paul and Mike Lee of Utah, the War Powers resolution had passed both houses of Congress.

      But 24 hours after Sanders urged the President to sign it, Trump vetoed the resolution, describing it as a “dangerous attempt to undermine my constitutional authority.”

      According to journalist Buchanan J. Buchanan, “with enough Republican votes in both chambers to resist Trump’s veto, this could have been the end of the matter; but it wasn’t. In fact, Trump gave the Democrats his them for peace by 2020.”

      If Sanders emerged as the nominee, we would have an election with a Democrat running with the catchphrase “no more wars” that Trump had promoted in 2016. Thus, Trump would be defending the bombing of Yemeni rebels and civilians by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia.

    • U.S. Military Stops Releasing Afghanistan War Information

      Amid a battlefield stalemate in Afghanistan, the U.S. military has stopped releasing information often cited to measure progress in America’s longest war, calling it of little value in fighting the Taliban insurgency.

      The move fits a trend of less information being released about the war in recent years, often at the insistence of the Afghan government, which had previously stopped the U.S. military from disclosing the number of Afghans killed in battle as well as overall attrition within the Afghan army.

      The latest clampdown also aligns with President Donald Trump’s complaint that the U.S. gives away too much war information, although there is no evidence that this had any influence on the latest decision.


      Nicholson’s successor, Gen. Scott Miller, believes there already are enough such assessments available to the public, including one produced by intelligence agencies.

      “We are focused on setting the conditions for a political settlement to safeguard our national interests,” Col. David M. Butler, a spokesman for Miller, said in an email exchange Tuesday. “The district stability assessment that was previously provided by DOD was redundant and did little to serve our mission of protecting our citizens and allies.”

      The war is at a sensitive juncture, with the Trump administration making a hard push to get peace talks started between the Taliban and the Afghan government. The Taliban recently launched a spring military offensive and have refused to directly talk to Kabul representatives, viewing the government as a U.S. puppet.

      In its report, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, or SIGAR, said Miller’s command offered a further explanation for no longer producing the “district control” data, asserting there was “uncertainty” in the way the data were produced and saying “the assessments that underlie them are to a degree subjective.”

    • Is the U.S. Protecting Saudi Fugitives Accused of Serious Crimes?

      The government of Saudi Arabia has repeatedly helped Saudi citizens evade prosecutors and the police in the United States and flee back to their homeland after being accused of serious crimes here, current and former U.S. officials said.

      The FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies have been aware of the Saudi actions for at least a decade, officials said. But successive American administrations have avoided confronting the government in Riyadh out of concern that doing so might jeopardize U.S. interests, particularly Saudi cooperation in the fight against Islamist terrorism, current and former officials said.

    • ISIS Feeds Off the Chaos of War

      Western governments have been swift to pledge action to strike at Isis, as it becomes clear that the organisation was behind the suicide bombings that killed 253 people in Sri Lanka.

      A video released by Isis after the attacks shows Zahran Hashim, an Islamic preacher and alleged leader of the bombers, pledging allegiance together with six other men – also thought to be bombers – to the self-declared caliph and leader of Isis, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

      Western leaders, as is usual, are proposing easy or unattainable action that will do little to damage Isis capabilities – such as trying to limit its access to social media – while steering clear of potentially more effective but difficult to implement policies to eradicate Isis that might be contrary to their national interests.

      The best way to weaken Isis to the point where it can no longer orchestrate or carry out mass slaughter, like that in Sri Lanka last Sunday, is to bring an end to the wars in the Middle East and North Africa which over the last forty years have produced al-Qaeda and its clones, of which Isis is the most famous and most dangerous.

      Governments deny that they are in any way responsible for Isis staying in business and point to the western-backed offensives against it which led to the last piece of the Islamic State being over-run on 23 March.

      As a territorial entity Isis has been eliminated, but that does not mean that it cannot carry out guerrilla and terrorist attacks, as has happened in the last few months in Iraq and Syria. These are little reported because they take place in the vast deserts on the Iraq-Syrian border or they target regimes we do not like, such as the Syrian government in Damascus.

    • Anti-Satellite Weapons Versus National Security: Part Two

      Not only has the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), Government of India, remained silent on the “unpredictable and dangerous consequences” (and the wider threat of a nuclear conflagration) of targeting an adversary’s satellite but also the MEA has tried to discount the adverse impact of the debris generated by the ASAT test by arguing that: “The test was done in the lower atmosphere to ensure that there is no space debris. Whatever debris that is generated will decay and fall back onto the earth within weeks.” (Para V) Reportedly about 400 pieces of orbital debris were created as a result of India’s ASAT test. However, the MEA’s contention is under challenge. According to a report published on 09 Apr, 2019 in SpaceNews: “At least a dozen fragments from India’s March 27 anti-satellite test reached altitudes above 1,000 kilometers, meaning some debris will stay in orbit much longer than estimated by India, according to research from Analytical Graphics Inc. (AGI). One fragment was spotted at 2,222 kilometers…. The ISS [International Space Station], which orbits at roughly 410 kilometers, was among the top 60 spacecraft threatened by the debris, according to AGI.”

    • Putin signs order expediting Russian citizenship process for Ukrainians who lived in Crimea and Donbas before spring 2014

      Russian president Vladimir Putin has signed an order allowing citizens of Ukraine and stateless individuals to apply for Russian citizenship on an expedited basis if they were born in the Crimea and lived there before Russia annexed the peninsula on March 18, 2014. The order also applies to individuals who were deported from the Crimea in the Soviet era or who lived in “certain districts of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts” before April 2014 but now have the documentation necessary to live in Russia.

    • Orientalism and the Myth of Independence

      In the nineteenth century more half of the world was colonized by the European imperial powers and according to historians like Eric Hobsbawm, it was the peak century of western colonialism in Africa and Asia: the largest continents by population. Moreover, the very industrial heydays across Europe were the result of colonization, that provided cheap labor, raw material and other resources for the industrial boom.

      Though the purpose of colonialism was to capture foreign market for the consumption of their industrial productivity, the imperial powers justified it through a civilizing mission — which connotes that the colonized people are/were “savages”, backward and culture-less, so they must be civilized.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Assange: Arrest was Inevitable – Extradition is not a Done Deal

      That Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, would be convicted in the UK for violating his bail conditions in 2012 was a foregone conclusion – the case was adjudicated in his absence at Westminster Magistrates’ Court last year. He will be sentenced for this in on 2 May in the crown court, where he will likely receive something approaching the maximum sentence of one year.

      Nobody around him has been in any doubt for quite some time that he would be looking at at least six months in a UK jail.

      When the extradition case finally comes to court, it could be longer than the maximum one year sentence Assange faces on the bail violation: at least a couple of years for domestic appeals, and that long again if the European Court of Human Rights decides to get involved.

      Last year, I was involved in the successful campaign to stop British-Finnish computer scientist Lauri Love being extradited to the US, where he faced charges in three separate judicial districts and a potential hundred years in federal prison. Given Lauri’s personal situation and health conditions, extradition would have represented a virtual death sentence and at appeal the high court essentially agreed with this assessment.

    • Assange Sentenced to 50 Weeks for Bail-Jumping

      A British judge has sentenced WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to 50 weeks in prison for jumping bail in 2012.

      Judge Deborah Taylor said Wednesday that Assange merited near the maximum sentence of one year because of the seriousness of his offense.

      She rejected his claim for leniency based on the nearly seven years he spent in the Ecuadorian Embassy.

    • Assange or Khashoggi: Whither Journalistic Standards?

      During the media frenzy, diplomatic flurry and widespread speculations around a hitherto marginal Saudi journalist’s apparently grizzly demise in Istanbul’s Saudi consulate last October, my thoughts stayed with the deathly silence that had fallen around Wikileaks’ founder and director.

      Information about Julian Assange had become increasingly sparse and obscured. After six years under virtual house arrest in Ecuador’s London embassy, his fate was more precarious every day. Seeking temporary asylum with Ecuador was apparently a serious miscalculation by Assange and his lawyers.

      By 2017, Assange’s astute observations on a range of policy issues were few and far between, his opinion on international matters sought or quoted, became less tantalizing too. (The most recent post is dated January, 2019.)

      Did international media and free press advocates who once celebrated Assange, utilized his revelations and heaped awards on Wikileaks, collectively agreed to abandon their erstwhile hero? And why the turnaround? (It’s not easy to explain although one observer suggests former associates actually conspired to depose him.)

      Increased silence from within Assange’s refuge presaged his recent ‘capture’. Then, when he suddenly appeared, subdued by dozens of guards, how shamelessly international media rushed to cheer his arrest. They seemed to delight in highlighting scant, salacious details of his condition at the time of his arrest. Reprehensible. Dismaying. Will those gloating journalists care what his captors do to Assange in detention?

    • Assange Refuses Extradition to US; Long Legal Fight Expected

      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange told a London court on Thursday that he would not agree to be extradited to the United States, where he is accused of conspiring to hack into a Pentagon computer.

      Assange, appearing by video link from a London prison, said he would not “surrender myself for extradition for doing journalism that has won many awards and protected many people.”

      Wearing jeans and a sports jacket, Assange appeared calm during the brief hearing at London’s Westminster Magistrates’ Court.

    • Ahead of Key Hearing on US Extradition, Assange Gets 50 Weeks in Prison for UK Bail Violation

      The sentencing on Wednesday came nearly three weeks after the Ecuadorian government revoked the journalist and publisher’s asylum status, and allowed British authorities to arrest Assange and forcibly drag him out of the embassy—moves that were immediately criticized by rights advocates, reporters, political leaders, and whistleblowers across the globe.

      WikiLeaks, in a series of tweets Wednesday, called the sentence “shocking” and “vindictive.”

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • The Vicious Climate-Wildfire Cycle

      With little fanfare and scant news coverage, fire season 2019 has arrived. Firefighters are already containing blazes in several states, including Colorado, Florida and Oklahoma, and seasonal outlooks suggest that significant wildfires are likely in parts of Alaska, Hawaii and the West Coast.

      While forest management and human development have increased wildfire incidence and risk, climate change has exacerbated the trend of large fires and contributed to the lengthening of the fire season, in some cases making wildfires a year-round phenomenon. In the Western U.S., climate change is a major driver behind the near doubling in burned area that we’ve experienced over the past 35 years, and has contributed to an increase in the frequency and severity of fires, while lengthening the fire season in some regions.

    • New Report Shows Duke Energy’s Clean Energy Claims Don’t Match Its Fossil Fuel Investments, Fights Against Rooftop Solar

      Duke Energy, the nation’s largest investor-owned electric utility, claims to be a climate and environmental leader, but a closer look reveals a dirty energy portfolio and consistent efforts to preserve a fossil fuel-based future.

      While the utility’s CEO, Lynn Good, writes in Duke’s 2018 Sustainability Report, “Duke Energy has been leading the charge to a cleaner energy future while helping our communities thrive,” a newly published report by the nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG) tells a much different story.

      By examining Duke’s current electric generating portfolio, the company’s actions, and key regulatory findings, EWG paints a picture of a utility that has been extremely slow to transition to renewable energy resources and that actively fights against customers’ ability to generate their own carbon-free electricity.

    • U.S. Considers Listing Giraffes as Endangered Species

      U.S. officials have announced that giraffes may qualify for protection under the Endangered Species Act following a lawsuit filed by conservation groups at the end of last year. Once a foreign species is listed as endangered, they are given protections that prohibit the import and export of any part of the animal.

      The lawsuit was brought on by the Center for Biological Diversity, the Humane Society and the Natural Resources Defense Council after the U.S. Forest Service did not respond to a petition by the groups to consider the species current conservation status, citing extinction concerns over “all or a significant portion of its range.”

    • Maine First U.S. State to Ban Styrofoam Containers

      Maine became the first state to officially ban single-use Styrofoam cups and containers on Tuesday.

      Democratic Maine Governor Janet Mills called the bill an “important step forward in protecting our environment” when she signed it into law, The Associated Press reported.

    • Maine becomes 1st state to ban single-use foam containers

      Maine has banned single-use food and drink containers made from polystyrene foam, commonly known as Styrofoam, becoming the first state to do so.

    • Key Part of World’s Largest Ice Shelf Melting 10 Times Faster Than Average

      Parts of the world’s largest ice shelf are melting 10 times faster than the shelf’s average rate, and this could have worrying implications for sea level rise.

      The finding is part of a study of the Ross Ice Shelf, a block of ice about the size of France, which plays an important role in stabilizing the rest of Antarctica, as BBC News reported.

    • Signs of faster melting in world’s largest ice shelf

      Part of the world’s largest ice shelf is melting 10 times faster than the rest, shedding light on how it might respond to climate change.
      The study of Antarctica’s Ross Ice Shelf reveals that one area is melting due to relatively warm ocean water getting into a cavity under the shelf.
      The findings have implications for future sea-level rise.
      This is because the the Ross Ice Shelf plays an important role in stabilising this wider region of Antarctica.
      Details have been published in the journal Nature Geoscience.

    • In Some Pennsylvania Pro-Fracking Corners, Name-calling, False Claims, and Swastika-Laden Images Circulate

      Cabot Oil and Gas is a shale drilling company that, according to state regulators, botched its shale gas extraction operations in an area around Carter Road in Dimock, Pennsylvania, about a decade ago.

      Cabot has for years fought liability for locals’ contaminated water supplies and has remained in legal disputes long after reaching secret settlements with many Carter Road residents that reportedly included non-disclosure agreements.

      Outside a courthouse not far from Dimock, a Cabot spokesman recently claimed that people complaining about water contamination from fracking were actually paid imposters, an unsubstantiated claim quickly echoed in pro-gas circles.

    • Caroline Lucas reaction to Committee on Climate Change statement

      Reacting to the Committee on Climate Change statement that the UK government must immediately set a legally binding target to cut greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050 [1], Caroline Lucas has said:

      “I warmly welcome this rigorous & timely report, and hope the Government will take particular note of its powerful recommendation that net zero should be pursued through bold action here at home without recourse to controversial international offsets or credits.

    • ‘Activism Works’: UK Parliament Makes History in Declaring Climate Emergency

      The U.K. Parliament made history on Wednesday by becoming the first to declare an environment and climate emergency.

      MPs in the House of Commons passed the motion put forth by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn following debate.

      “This can set off a wave of action from parliaments and governments around the globe,” Corbyn said in a statement, which called attention to the recent wave of actions demanding urgent action on the climate crisis.

      “Protesters and school-strikers told us to act,” he said. “Governments never act without pressure and we must keep the pressure up. I’m proud that the Labour Party brought this motion to the House, and now we will carry on this work by developing our plans to deliver a Green Industrial Revolution.”

      “Now it’s time for real action to tackle climate change,” Labour added on Twitter.

    • Your tax dollars at work

      As part of its Blue Economy initiative, the Trump administration has developed a map to provide ocean industries information on areas ripe for oil rigs and floating factory farms. The map brands these areas as “ocean neighborhoods.” Though that sounds pretty cozy, it is nothing close to reality. What’s in store for these “neighborhoods?” Massive rigs and other infrastructure, increased vessel traffic and noise, the inherent risk of dirty oil spills and blowouts and unavoidable toxic discharge.
      Although the map touts “a fountain of data for use by industry,” it ignores several components of the ocean ecosystem and certain coastal communities that are already struggling and need increased protections — not increased development. Users can view the migratory pathways of sharks and fish — but not other migratory species like seabirds and turtles. You can see critical habitats designated pursuant to the Endangered Species Act, but not the habitats for every threatened or endangered species (not all species receive critical habitat protection). Finally, feeding areas for cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) are shown, but what about breeding areas for these struggling species? And, where are the other species protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act: sirenians (manatees and dugongs) and marine carnivores (like seals, otters, walrus and polar bears)? Trump’s new industry-focused map does not include this vital information.
      While we’re at it, what about coastal communities throughout the Gulf of Mexico that are already bearing the brunt of extensive offshore drilling? Thanks to offshore drilling, they are struggling with basic needs like drinkable water and breathable air. But, the map doesn’t pay them any credence. Trump must not see them as a priority in determining where to develop next.

    • Native Renewables: Powering Up Tribal Communities

      Suzanne Singer and Wahleah Johns saw this problem as an opportunity. In 2016 they started the organization Native Renewables to help bring power to homes on the Hopi reservation and the Navajo Nation. The project also works to train a local workforce to build, maintain and manage renewable energy systems.

      We spoke with Singer, a mechanical engineer, about the promises and hurdles of expanding renewable energy access in native communities.


      In the context of our work, there are more than 15,000 Navajo homes that lack electricity. With a reservation the size of West Virginia, a major challenge of electrification is the cost to provide grid-tied power to every home in rural areas. One potential solution is to provide access to an off-grid photovoltaic system with battery storage that is affordable for low-income families. Our goal is to provide a pathway for families to go solar without introducing a financial burden.

      For larger utility-scale, commercial or community projects, the challenges can vary from tribe to tribe. There are 573 federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native tribes and villages, and even more state-recognized tribes. One challenge can be having the initial capital funding to invest in a project. There can be some environmental hurdles and questions around how the project impacts wildlife, sacred sites and use of lands. With the success of every tribal project, there is motivation to learn from those successes to scale up the number of projects.

    • Human impact on climate is 100 years old

      Our influence on the Earth’s environment has lasted for a century: the human impact on droughts and moisture patterns began at least 100 years ago, researchers now say.

      US scientists used new analytic techniques and almost a thousand years of tree-ring data to build up a picture of drought and rainfall worldwide for the last century. And they report in the journal Nature that they have identified the human fingerprint upon climate variation as far back as the first days of the motor car and the infant aircraft industry.

      The pattern of change, in which regions prone to drought such as the western US became more arid, grew visible between 1900 and 1949. The researchers saw the same pattern of drying in those decades in Australia, Europe, the Mediterranean, western Russia and southeast Asia.

      At the same time more rain and snow fell in western China, much of central Asia, the Indian subcontinent, Indonesia and central Canada.

    • Bavarians Vote to Stop Extinction

      The world is in the throes of an extinction crisis unlike any throughout paleoclimate history, aka: the Sixth Mass Extinction, keeping in mind that the normal “background rate” for extinction is 1-to-5 species gone per year. But, what if it is five (5) every 24 hours?

      Answer: It’s a lot more than that.

      According to scientists, the current extinction rate is more than 1,000xs the normal background rate, or, in the simplest of terms, instead of 1-to-5 species extinctions per year, it’s clipping along at an alarming rate of somewhere between 25-to-250 species of plant, insect, bird, and mammal extinctions every 24 hours! That’s unsustainable!

      In fact, integral resources for sustaining life have already been severely undermined, and it’s proven in studies of mass loss of arthropods, and other key elements of biodiversity from Australia to pristine European nature preserves to uninhabited tropical rainforests, as the Anthropocene (the current geological age during which human activity has been the dominant influence on climate and the environment) haphazardly destroys and poisons life-sourcing ecosystems.

      For example, it’s gotten so extreme that human-made deathly chemical toxins are found in Mt. Everest’s snow (29,000 feet up) as well as in deep-water squid (3,800 feet down) proof that what’s ordinarily so egregious that its universally considered “unbelievable” at times proves to be “beyond believable.”

    • Establishment Media and the Green New Deal: New Wine in Old Bottles

      Freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (known as AOC) and veteran Sen. Ed Markey on February 7 introduced HR 109, a sweeping mission statement for aggressively tackling climate change by jump-starting an equitable socio-economic transition. While the resolution was a radical departure from politics as usual, most corporate media filtered coverage of the “Green New Deal” (GND) through the lens of conventional expectations.

      FAIR took a close look at day-one coverage of the Green New Deal (both breaking news stories and news analyses) across 14 major news outlets on February 7, 2019 (or, where noted, February 8): The New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Wall Street Journal and Los Angeles Times newspapers; the Associated Press, Reuters and UPI newswires; the CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN and Fox News networks; and NPR.

      We also counted the number and nature of headlines of news and opinion pieces on the GND in the two weeks following the announcement in the papers of record (New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal), America’s most-read newspaper (USA Today), and the most-watched 24/7 cable networks (CNN and Fox).

    • Because ‘The House Is on Fire,’ Naomi Klein Takes Centrism-Obsessed Media to Task for Failed Climate Coverage

      News coverage of the climate crisis can no longer rely on the false pretense of objectivity, writer and activist Naomi Klein said Tuesday.

      “There is a confirmation bias among the largest chunk of journalists out there who really pride themselves on being centrists,” Klein said Tuesday during a town hall at the Columbia Journalism School in New York. “There’s an absolute fetish for centrism, for seriousness defined by splitting the difference—and not getting too excited about anything”

      The mainstream media is “profoundly distrustful of people who are saying ‘actually, the house is on fire,’” Klein said, citing the impulse among many journalists to remain objective and hear both sides.

      “But guess what,” said Klein. “The house is on fire.”

      The journalism school’s publication, The Columbia Journalism Review (CJR), is joining with The Nation to launch an initiative, #CoveringClimateNow, to change coverage of the climate crisis.

      In an essay describing the initiative from April 22, Mark Hertsgaard, environmental correspondent for The Nation, and Kyle Pope, the publisher of CJR, described how they see the journalist’s job in the climate crisis as one of sounding the alarm.

  • Finance

    • How Did Real Estate Become So Expensive in San Francisco?

      Continuing on their quest, Curtis and Riley go to meet their realtor in the Mission District to look at a place in an older building that they’re hoping will be more affordable than a unit in a new condo tower. A Mission mural comes to life and tells the story of how real estate in San Francisco became so valuable.

    • Gentrification of the Sea

      We typically think of urban neighborhoods when we think of gentrification — places where modest-income families thrived for generations suddenly becoming no-go zones for all but the affluent.

      The waters around us have always seemed a place of escape from all this displacement, a more democratic space where the rich can stake no claim. The wealthy, after all, can’t displace someone fishing on a lake or sailing off the coast.

      Or can they? People who work and play around our waters are starting to worry.

      Local boat dealers and fishing aficionados alike, a leading marine industry trade journal reports, have begun “expressing concern about the growing income disparity in the United States.”

      What has boat dealers so concerned? The middle-class families they’ve counted on for decades are feeling too squeezed to buy their boats — or even continue boating.

      “Boating has now priced out the middle-class buyer,” one retailer opined to a Soundings Trade Only survey. “Only the near rich/very rich can boat.”

    • Tipping Point: The Gilets Jaunes are winning, what’s next?

      The weekend just gone, Manifestation 23, marked a seismic shift in the five month battle between the Gilets Jaunes and the French state. The Notre Dame fire has brought into the open the strategic shift in public opinion that has occurred over the winter; shifts all to the advantage of the Gilets Jaunes. While the cold winter months with their looming darkness only allowed us to glimpse two equal parties grinding away at each other in the gloom, the advent of spring and its clear light, reveals how the Gilets are gathering reserves of strength all over France, and how, now, they are slowly winning in Paris as well. The sight of French police surrounding Notre Dame and denying access to its ‘own’ population, starkly illustrates what the state seeks to deny. After all, these sort of monuments are the materiality through which states demonstrates their connection to the population, their right to rule and their own power.

      The Neo-liberal state is crumbling and Macron is going be the sacrificial lamb. At this stage he will be lucky to last two months. His clumsy handling of the Notre Dame blaze has outraged and enraged more sections of the French population. Indeed throughout the five months of protest, and despite the wall to wall media propaganda, opinion polls consistently show continued and unwavering sympathy and support of the Gilets Jaunes.

    • Lawmakers Debate Future of Loan Relief for Public Workers

      In 2007, the U.S. government made a promise to public service workers: Make 10 years of payments on their federal student loans and any remaining debt would be erased. But officials have largely failed to deliver.

      And that’s left lawmakers questioning whether to end the program or try to fix it.

      The Trump administration and some Republican legislators see it as a lost cause, arguing that the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program is misguided and has proved too complicated for borrowers to navigate.

      But a group of Democrats is pushing to salvage the program, blaming its failure on poor management by the Education Department. The group, which includes six 2020 presidential contenders, proposed a new bill this month that would simplify the rules and expand the offer to a wider swath of borrowers.

      “Millions of teachers, social workers, members of the military, nurses, public defenders and countless others have been denied the support they have earned,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., one of the bill’s sponsors and a Democratic presidential candidate. “It’s time for Congress to fix this program and create a fairer and simpler process for public servants seeking loan forgiveness.”

    • Most Restaurant Workers Don’t Earn Enough to Feed Their Own Families

      When Venorica Tucker was in high school, she worked as a server in a restaurant owned by the Marriott Corporation in Washington, D.C. It was the mid-1960s and her wage was 66 cents an hour, plus tips.

      Now 70 years old, Tucker currently serves food and bartends as a contractor at the U.S. House of Representatives, and while her wages have risen significantly over the past 50-plus years, she still often finds herself scrambling.

      Her salary, she says, varies with the congressional calendar. “In this job, when there’s no work, there’s no pay. I had a really hard time during the government shutdown. Remember, it lasted more than a month and even though I was able to collect unemployment benefits, being without a job for so long meant that I fell behind on my bills. I’m still playing catch-up four months later.”

      Tucker emphasizes that she works extremely hard and believes that she deserves to be compensated fairly and treated with respect, free from the economic exploitation and sexual harassment that are rampant in the industry. And she is not alone in voicing these basic demands.

      According to Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, a nonprofit organization and worker center that supports and connects restaurant workers throughout the country, more than 13 million U.S. residents, the majority of them women of color, are employed in restaurants. In 18 states, they earn a base pay of $2.13 an hour plus tips, a sub-minimum wage that has been frozen since 1991. Twenty-six states pay a somewhat higher sub-minimum, while just seven — Alaska, California, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington — provide the full federal minimum to those who serve our food when we dine out.

    • What We Have Learned From the Trump Tax Cut

      We’re now well into the second year of the Trump tax cut, and we’re still waiting for the investment boom. By its own criterion, the Trump tax cut has failed badly, but there are a few lessons worth learning before trashing it as a complete failure. First, and most importantly, the tax cut did provide a boost in demand, leading to faster economic and wage growth and a lower unemployment rate.

      The bulk of the tax cut took the form of a reduction in the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent. As has been widely reported, this led to a surge in share buybacks, as companies could find nothing better to do with the extra cash than pay it out to shareholders.

      Those shareholders spent much of the money they got, driving up consumption by 2.9 percent in the year from the third quarter of 2017 (the last quarter before the tax cut was approved) to the third quarter of 2018. That’s up from growth of just 2.4 percent the prior year. Growth also got a boost from higher federal spending, mostly military, which grew by 5 percent in 2018 after growing just 1.3 percent in 2017.

      This boost to growth led to more rapid job creation, pushing the unemployment rate down to its current 3.8 percent level. (It had been as low as 3.7 percent for two months last fall.) This is a really big deal. Most economists had not previously thought the unemployment rate could get this low without causing spiraling inflation.

      While we may start to see issues with inflation in the future, there is essentially zero evidence of any uptick in the inflation rate to date. This means that we were able to get the unemployment rate down, employing perhaps another million workers. These workers were disproportionately from the most disadvantaged segments of the labor market — people of color, workers with less education and people with criminal records.

      The tighter labor market also led to a modest uptick in the rate of wage growth. This has averaged 3.3 percent over the first three months of 2019, up from 2.5 percent in the last three months of 2017.

    • How Companies and Allies of One Powerful Democrat Got $1.1 Billion in Tax Breaks

      On a blustery day here in early March, a waterfront amphitheater in one of America’s poorest cities became the unlikely venue for a rare public performance by New Jersey’s top political boss.

      George E. Norcross III, a silver-haired insurance broker who is widely regarded as the most powerful unelected official in New Jersey, showed up at the BB&T Pavilion in Camden to tout the “rebirth” of his long-suffering hometown and praise the state tax break program that made it possible.

      “It looks to me like the state got a pretty good deal,” said Norcross, standing before projected photos of children cavorting in what appears to be an idyllic Camden, only blocks away from streets lined with dilapidated buildings.

      In an interview a few weeks later, Norcross called himself “one of the loudest cheerleaders” for the embattled tax break program. “I’m certainly very proud to be part of it,” he said.

      Norcross and his associates have reaped substantial benefits from the tax breaks. Of the $1.6 billion in tax breaks for companies that agreed to make a capital investment in Camden, at least $1.1 billion went to Norcross’ own insurance brokerage, his business partnerships and charitable affiliations, and clients of the law and lobbying firms of his brother Philip, an investigation by WNYC and ProPublica found.

    • How Taxpayers Covered a $1,000 Liquor Bill for Trump Staffers (and More) at Trump’s Club

      In April 2017, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Mar-a-Lago, President Donald Trump’s Palm Beach, Florida, estate and club, for a two-day summit. While Xi and his delegation stayed at a nearby hotel, Trump and his advisers stayed at the peach-colored, waterfront resort.

      That evening, Trump and a dozen of his closest advisers hosted Xi and the Chinese delegation in an ornate dining room where they ate Dover sole and New York strip steak. Those sorts of lavish, formal gatherings are expected for a major bilateral summit.

      But then there are less formal events. At some point later that evening, a group repaired to Mar-a-Lago’s Library Bar, a wood-paneled study with a portrait of Trump in tennis whites (titled “The Visionary”) hanging nearby. The group asked the bartender to leave the room so it “could speak confidentially,” according to an email written by Mar-a-Lago’s catering director, Brooke Watson.

    • Wisconsin Gave Foxconn Millions for a Factory and Jobs That Never Came

      On the campaign trail, Donald Trump promised to create 25 million jobs over the next decade if he won the presidency. As The Washington Post reported in 2016, he claimed to “be the greatest jobs president that God ever created.” In 2018, he announced that Taiwanese technology manufacturer Foxconn’s plans to build a plant near Milwaukee, part of a deal that would bring Wisconsin 13,000 new jobs, were proof that his campaign promises were coming to fruition.

      Almost a year later, Valerie Bauerlein reports in The Wall Street Journal, the Mount Pleasant, Wisc., site that was supposed to be building iPhone displays and employing thousands of people lies empty.

      At the end of 2018, she writes, “The Taiwanese manufacturing giant, famous as an Apple Inc. supplier, had spent only $99 million, 1% of its pledged investment, according to its latest state filings.”

      The promised jobs also have yet to appear. Bauerlein reports that while Foxconn “projected as many as 2,080 in-state employees by the end of 2019,” it had “fewer than 200 at last year’s end, state filings show. The village is still awaiting factory building plans for review.”

      Meanwhile, almost 75 homes were demolished to make way for the plant, in addition to hundreds of acres of farmland cleared. City and village taxpayers in Mount Pleasant borrowed nearly $350 million for infrastructure upgrades and to buy land.

      According to Bauerlein, the project involved one of the biggest public-incentive deals ever given to an international company, a package valued at over $4 billion.

    • The Trade Games Are Back

      U.S. trade policy is truly fascinating. Probably more than in any other area of public policy, trade agreements are structured by corporate interests behind closed doors. Then when a deal is produced, the establishment media and economists insist that we have to support the deal behind the important principle of “free trade.” The opponents are treated as knuckle-dragging Neanderthals who just can’t understand how the economy works.

      We got another episode in this long-running show last week when the United States International Trade Commission (USITC) came out with its assessment of the United States, Mexico, Canada Agreement (USMCA), also known as the new NAFTA. It came as a surprise to virtually no one that the USITC study showed economic gains from the deal. The study projected that the deal would lead to an increase in GDP of 0.35 percent when its effects are fully felt. However, the real impressive part of the story is how it got this result.

      Before getting to the particulars, it’s worth putting some perspective on the character of the report. The USITC was obviously determined to make the USMCA look good. One reason this is clear is the failure to put a date for the year for which their projections are made. The model that the USITC used to project gains, the model from the Global Trade Analysis Project (GTAP), assumes a long period through which the economy gradually adjusts to the changes put in place from a trade deal. The projected impact refers to the end year, which is around 16 years in the future.

    • The New “Infrastructure Deal” Is a Political Disaster

      In the past 24 hours four things of direct political importance to the ongoing saga of the Trump Maladministration have occurred:

      (1) the Barr Justice Department, and the Trump administration more generally, has escalated its battle of wills with the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees, refusing to comply with requests for information and for interviews, in clear violation of the law;

      (2) Trump and his family members have filed a civil suit trying to block Deutschebank from disclosing financial information that has been duly requested by House Committees;

      (3) The New York Times reported that Robert Mueller sent a letter to Barr in late March objecting to Barr’s public statements about how the Mueller Report exonerated the President

      (4) Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer met with President Trump in the White House, and agreed to the outlines of a plan for a $2 trillion infrastructure bill .

      According to the Times: “Ms. Pelosi requested the meeting with Mr. Trump, in part to change the conversation from impeachment to infrastructure and to demonstrate that Democrats want to proceed with a policy agenda, and not merely with investigations of the president.”

    • Where the Money Is

      Famed bank robber Willie Sutton once explained that he busted into banks because “that’s where the money is.” What a small-timer! Corporate thieves—including the biggest banks—know that the big scores are in the tax code and federal budget. America’s superrich establishment decided to woo Trump and his fanatical constituency to back their agenda of plutocratic plunder.

      It’s working. The big legislative accomplishment of the guy who claimed to be a working-class hero was his 2017 Christmastime signing of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. As most Americans now realize, the tax cut was not for them but instead was a disgraceful trillion-dollar-a-year giveaway to corporate giants and their wealthiest shareholders.


      All is not lost. While the piggiest corporations gorge themselves at the public trough, a growing number of their corporate cousins have stood up for a better way of doing business: B Corporations. The B stands for benefit, referring to these corporations’ pledge to benefit workers, the community and the environment. The B Corp community works toward lower levels of poverty and inequality, a healthier environment, stronger communities and high-quality jobs with dignity. For more details and a list of B Corps, go to bcorporation.net.

    • Watch: In Under Three Minutes, Labour Party Shows How Benefits for Working Families Help the Economy

      With a humorous video, the British Labour Party delivered a succinct message to voters on Monday: offering tax cuts to the rich while cutting social programs hurts communities and does nothing to promote economic growth.

      Labour released its latest video on social media three days ahead of the country’s local elections to urge voters to reject the Conservative Party’s familiar claims that cutting taxes for corporations and the wealthy will encourage companies to hire more workers and hand out raises.

      The woman narrating the 2.5-minute video begins by explaining, “Today we’re going to find out who’s better for the economy. Ordinary people…or billionaires?”

    • While Corporate Profits and Tax-Dodging Soared, Analysis Shows Just 6% of GOP ‘Tax Scam’ Benefits Went to Workers

      A new six-month analysis of President Donald Trump’s 2017 tax cuts details how workers received little benefit from the plan, despite the savings many of their powerful corporate employers received.

      The Center for Public Integrity (CPI) interviewed independent tax analysts and officials who were involved in the Republican Party’s effort to sell the so-called American Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to the public—and within their own party ranks. Progressive critics have consistently called the law nothing nothing more than a “tax scam.”

      The GOP’s insistence on a tax law which included the largest corporate tax cut in U.S. history—from 35 to 21 percent—resulted in companies saving about $150 billion in the first year after the passage in December 2017.

      Trump and then-House Speaker Paul Ryan had spent months telling Americans they stood to save hundreds or even thousands of dollars in taxes, with Trump telling one crowd that the average family would see a pay raise of about $4,000, a benefit that would “trickle down” from employers’ corporate tax cuts.

    • Yes, We Can do Better Than Capitalism

      By democratizing our workplaces, we can supplant the dominant ecomomic system which cannot escape its intrinsic exploitation of labor

    • Workers Around World Mark May Day With Marches and Rallies Demanding Fair Wages and Workplace Justice

      Workers in countries all over the world joined marches and rallies on Wednesday to mark International Workers’ Day, or May Day, with progressive political leaders joining some events and other protests being quashed by law enforcement.

      The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) was among the organizations that promoted the international event on social media, tweeting, “A fighting workers’ union is the answer” to workplace injustice.

    • May Day Activists Take to the Streets, in Paris and Beyond (Multimedia)
    • May Day 2019 in Paris
    • In US and UK, the Working and Middle Classes Are Under Attack

      The crises affecting the political economies of the U.K. and U.S. are strikingly parallel. The 2008 capitalist crash hit and hurt both badly. Each arranged government bailouts of their major banks and many large corporations. After 2008, they both imposed real economic suffering — austerity — on the mass of their people. Finally, in both countries, pre-2008 trends toward greater economic inequality accelerated post-2008. Those trends in turn provoked deepening political and cultural divisions.

      The official government economic policies in both countries did little or nothing to change the basic conditions that brought on the 2008 crisis. That is partly why the trends toward greater inequality continued after 2008. In contrast, after the 1929 crash, inequality had decreased. In those years, radical militancy surged within the labor movement, in socialist and communist parties, and thus within the coalitions among them. That militancy moved politics to the left, creating or increasing social welfare programs paid for with tax increases on corporations and the rich.

      The result of the parallel post-2008 trajectories of their political economies was a common problem that each country solved similarly. The shared problem was an accumulating mass rage at the perceived general economic decline suffered by “average people.” The rage acquired the label “populism.” The shared “solution” to the problem in both countries was to produce a massive political distraction from the enraging structure and trends of its economy by instead introducing a focus on a political spectacle. Capitalism itself was the common problem, but in each society, leading politicians and mass media focused determinedly elsewhere, turning public attention to that spectacle instead of to the economic shifts that occurred in the old centers of capitalism — western Europe, North America and Japan — after 1970. Before the 1970s, capitalism had concentrated production, distribution and finance — and hence jobs, income and wealth — in its old centers since the 18th century. Capitalists had grudgingly raised wages in its old centers to secure industrial peace. They were enabled to do so partly by the profits from a colonialism that organized a new world economy. Outside capitalism’s old centers, wages, incomes and standards of living were far lower than inside.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Not Impeaching Trump Is Riskier than Impeaching Him

      Donald Trump has fully earned impeachment and removal from office. However, the Democratic Party leadership opposes impeachment, because they fear the Senate will not remove Trump, and as a consequence, it will undermine their prospects in 2020.

      There are several problems with that thesis. First, it presumes at a minimum that the 2020 election will be more or less free and fair. That assumption is unwarranted. Republican voter suppression of Democratic voters is constant and ongoing. Last year, for example, the five Republican judge majority on the U.S. Supreme Court in Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute upheld an Ohio law purging from the voter rolls persons who had not voted for six years, unless they re-registered. In her dissent in Husted Justice Sotomayor explained the law was voter suppression plain and simple and cited documentation that it disproportionately disenfranchised, among others, minority voters. Minority voters, of course, lean heavily Democrat.

      Several states have enacted a requirement voters present government-issued identification. Again the rule disproportionately disenfranchises people of color. Numerous other methods of achieving this end have been and can be used.

      In 2020 if Trump is running, we are sure to encounter ramped up voter suppression. Perhaps he will justify the additional measures as means to stop the “non-citizen” voters he invented to explain Clinton’s winning almost 3,000,000 more votes than he in 2016?

      Then there is increasingly aggressive Russian election interference. The New York Times recently reported there is evidence Russia successfully hacked into voter rolls in Florida last year. Unsurprisingly, Trump effectively has green-lighted further Russian interference (which Mueller showed assisted Trump in 2016) by precluding cabinet officials from even raising the issue.

    • Richard Lugar, Longtime GOP Senator and Foreign Policy Expert, Dies

      Former Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar, a Republican foreign policy sage known for leading efforts to help the former Soviet states dismantle and secure much of their nuclear arsenal, but whose reputation for working with Democrats cost him his final campaign, died Sunday. He was 87.

      Lugar died at the Inova Fairfax Heart and Vascular Institute in Virginia from complications related to chronic inflammatory demylinating polyneuropathy, or CIPD, a rare neurological disorder, the Lugar Center in Washington said in a statement announcing his death. The statement said his wife, four sons, and their families were with him “throughout his short illness at the hospital.”

      A soft-spoken and thoughtful former Rhodes Scholar, Lugar dominated Indiana politics during his 36 years in the U.S. Senate. That popularity gave him the freedom to concentrate largely on foreign policy and national security matters — a focus highlighted by his collaboration with Democratic Sen. Sam Nunn on a program under which the U.S. paid to dismantle and secure thousands of nuclear warheads and missiles in the former Soviet states after the Cold War ended.

      “Every stockpile represents a theft opportunity for terrorists and a temptation for security personnel who might seek to profit by selling weapons on the black market,” Lugar said in 2005. “We do not want the question posed the day after an attack on an American military base.”

    • ‘What Are You Trying to Hide?’ Democrats Threaten Subpoena as Barr Suggests Canceling Testimony

      With Attorney General William Barr reportedly threatening to cancel his scheduled testimony before the House Judiciary Committee this week over objections to the format of the hearing, Rep. Jerry Nadler warned Sunday that he is prepared to issue a subpoena if Barr refuses to appear.

      “The witness is not going to tell the committee how to conduct its hearing, period,” Nadler, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, told CNN amid reports that Barr took issue with a plan to allow committee lawyers from both parties to question the attorney general.

      If Barr refuses to testify, said Nadler, “then we will have to subpoena him, and we will have to use whatever means we can to enforce the subpoena.”

    • Russia’s Attorney General posts major embezzlement case sentence before court announcement

      On Monday, before Moscow’s Meshchansky District Court actually rendered its sentence, Russia’s Attorney General announced that Viktor Zakharchenko, the father of former Interior Minister Dmitry Zakharchenko, had been sentenced to five years in prison for embezzlement. The newspaper Novaya Gazeta noticed the agency’s statement, which soon disappeared. Not only was the Attorney General’s announcement early, but it was also inaccurate: the Meshchansky District Court later sentenced Zakharchenko Senior to four years in prison and fined him 800,000 rubles ($12,390).

    • Trump’s Rhetoric Stokes Hate and Never Thinks of the Consequences.

      Hatred, resentment, white supremacy and victimhood are deadly political tools. President Trump wields them with no thought to the consequences — and people die.

      The latest is Lori Gilbert Kaye, 60, fatally shot Saturday at the Chabad of Poway synagogue near San Diego. The suspected shooter, a 19-year-old gunman armed with a military-style assault rifle, wounded three others. The assailant, who reportedly yelled anti-Semitic slurs during the attack, left behind an Internet screed full of the same kind of paranoid vitriol about Jews that was used to motivate the Holocaust.

      The alleged killer’s “open letter” voiced hearty approval of the massacre of 11 Jews at a synagogue in Pittsburgh in October. He was apparently an equal-opportunity hater, however, because in the letter he confesses to an arson attack at a nearby mosque and claims to have been inspired by the anti-Muslim rampage in New Zealand last month that left 50 dead.

      I should note that both the Pittsburgh and Poway shooters expressed criticism of Trump because they thought him too supportive of Israel. But Trump’s Middle East policy does not get him off the hook. At this point, no one can deny the obvious: The president, primarily through his unconstrained rhetoric, has fostered an atmosphere in which hate-filled white supremacists feel motivated, vindicated and emboldened to act.

      In my lifetime, at least, we have never before had a president who deliberately exacerbates racial and religious tensions for political gain. We have had a few who winked at racists to get elected, a few who blew dog whistles about such issues as school desegregation and “inner-city crime.” But I can’t think of one of Trump’s predecessors who might have been capable of looking at a crowd of white supremacists, neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members on one side, a diverse crowd of counterprotesters on the other, and saying there were “very fine people on both sides.”

      Of course, that does not mean that all of Trump’s supporters are racist. Nor does it mean that Trump somehow generates racism out of thin air. What he does is allow it to surface into the light, where its putrid flowers can bloom.

    • Voter Suppression, Not Russia, is the Gravest Threat to Elections in the US

      We all have heard about WikiLeaks and Russian interference in the 2016 election. The report of Special Counsel Robert Mueller has once more put that on the front pages. Too often lost in the furor, however, is the far more damaging TrikiLeaks — the tricks and laws used to suppress the vote by partisans, largely Republicans here at home.

      After the Supreme Court’s right-wing gang of five gutted key sections of the Voting Rights Act in Shelby v. Holder, Republican-controlled states immediately ramped up efforts to create obstacles for voting, particularly for people of color. They mandated specific forms of state ID, made it harder for students to vote, eliminated same-day registration, reduced early voting days, closed polling booths in African American neighborhoods leading to long delays, purged voters from the rolls, perfected partisan gerrymandering and more. In some cases, as in North Carolina, their discriminatory intent was so public that the laws were overturned in federal court, but in most places, the new barriers were in place in 2016.

      Did it make a difference? Voting rights expert Ari Berman says, “absolutely.” Overall 14 states had new restrictions in place, passed since the Shelby decision. Look at Wisconsin. Trump won by 22,000 votes. In Wisconsin, 300,000 African American voters didn’t have the newly required strict photo ID. Black voter turnout in Milwaukee declined by 51,000 votes from 2012, while as Lawyers Committee President Kristen Clarke noted, voter turnout rates were depressed across the state.

      Now we’re headed into 2020. Republican bastions like Texas, Tennessee and Arizona witnessed surges of Democratic support in 2018. Not surprisingly, they are launching new efforts to suppress the vote. In Texas, the secretary of state announced a plan to purge 95,000 people from the voter rolls because they weren’t citizens. Independent research then demonstrated that in Harris County, which includes Houston, 60 percent of the 30,000 people on the list had received citizenship long ago. Some of the supposed research was 25 years old. Once more citizens had to go to court to try to stop the suppression.

    • What Have We Done to Deserve Meghan McCain?

      I cannot bring myself to hate Meghan McCain. What would be the point? She is the natural endpoint of a giddily vacuous celebrity culture, a sort-of famous person who plays a sort-of famous person on TV. She frequently says stupid and hateful things, but they always seem uncalculated, and she is endlessly surprised to find that people disagree with her. (One suspects that the household staff never did, and now that she’s wandered off the compound and into public life, she can’t quite seem to grasp that not everyone is a family retainer.) Like most privileged mediocrities, her sense of moral conviction is perfectly befuddled.

      McCain is one of the hosts of the beloved kitchen background noise generator, “The View,” where she has been known to pound the table and yell, “I’m John McCain’s daughter,” as though she were there for any other reason. John McCain, you may recall, was a famously corrupt senator who reinvented himself as a “maverick” by very occasionally bucking his party’s line and by very frequently flattering reporters. Upon his death last year, he was hailed as a moral hero for having personally disliked Donald Trump. Meghan McCain also personally dislikes Trump and often compares him unfavorably to “my father, John McCain.”

    • What Happened to the New and Improved Bernie Sanders?

      Bernie Sanders kicked off his campaign just about two months ago in Brooklyn, New York opening with a speech saying, “we are going to defeat the most dangerous president in modern history.” He urged for “an economy which works for all, not just the 1%.” In the first sentences of his speech he remarked that “the underlying principles of our government will not be greed, hatred and lies. It will not be racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia and religious bigotry.” The tone and approach of the speech sounded like a new and improved Bernie Sanders ready to tackle “identity” issues and oppression head on.

      This however did not stop the Democratic establishment from staying on their anti-progressive message. Zerlina Maxwell, a paid Clinton operative and “MSNBC analyst” lamented that “twenty-three minutes in, Bernie finally mentioned race and gender.” For Democrats that watch MSNBC and didn’t hear Sanders’s Brooklyn speech, it reinforced what they already thought about him and 2016. The only problem is that Maxwell’s assertion was demonstrably false and the Sander’s team should have been quick to correct the misinformation. In any event, the well-disciplined MSNBC panel sat silent after Zerlina Maxwell’s untrue remarks just like the Sanders team.

      Since his opening speech, Sanders has been ineffective in answering certain questions or has been beaten to the punch, on what too many white social democrats call, “identity politics.” Sanders was in fact, one of two white elected officials that supported one of the most progressive political platforms in memory, Jesse Jackson’s 1984 bid. For his Brooklyn speech, he was introduced by three prominent African-Americans, most notably, former Ohio state Senator Nina Turner.

      Sanders discussed the current state of inequality as it relates to both the carceral state and xenophobic impulses. This was an enormous step for him and an incredibly important point of distinction from his previous run, but for some reason these points were nonexistent at his recent She the People Forum appearance. Sanders should avoid reading his press and needs to stop giving canned answers on race.

    • Impeach or Investigate? Democrats See No Reason to Choose.

      Whatever happens next, don’t call it impeachment.

      House Democrats have been careful not to rush to impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump in the aftermath of Robert Mueller’s report, despite calls to do so by high-profile lawmakers and 2020 presidential contenders. But as Congress resumes Monday, the Democratic oversight and investigations agenda is starting to look a lot like the groundwork that would be needed to launch an impeachment inquiry. At some point, it’s a political difference rather than a practical one.

      “I don’t think there’s a magical moment at which proceedings become ‘really’ impeachment proceedings,” said Cornell Law School professor Josh Chafetz.

      The Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hear testimony from Attorney General William Barr on Thursday, despite resistance from the administration. The Oversight Committee has reached an agreement with the White House for testimony this week on security clearances. The Intelligence Committee is probing Trump’s financial dealings. And the Ways & Means Committee is pursuing Trump’s tax returns.

      “The House has such broad oversight powers that it really doesn’t matter whether they’re geared toward impeachment, toward legislating, toward overseeing the functioning of the executive branch, etc.,” Chafetz said. “At the end of the day, for the purposes of the powers available to the House, I don’t think it makes much of a difference whether they use the word ‘impeachment’ or not.”

      House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has insisted the door is neither open, nor closed, to impeachment. Instead, she says, Congress is taking a step-by-step approach in exerting its role as a check on the executive branch. It will lead wherever it leads, and the public can decide.

    • Barr to Skip Hearing Before House Judiciary Committee

      Attorney General William Barr has told members of the House Judiciary Committee that he will not testify before their committee Thursday.

      That’s according to two people familiar with the matter who spoke to The Associated Press. The people weren’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

      The attorney general was asked to testify before the committee about special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.

      His refusal to attend the hearing is likely to cause a further rift with congressional Democrats who have accused him of trying to spin Mueller’s report to favor the president.

    • Barr, Mueller Trade Barbs as Private Rift Goes Public

      Private tensions between Justice Department leaders and special counsel Robert Mueller’s team broke into public view in extraordinary fashion Wednesday as Attorney General William Barr pushed back at complaints over his handling of the Trump-Russia investigation report and aimed his own criticism at the special counsel.

      Testifying for the first time since releasing Mueller’s report, Barr said he was surprised Mueller did not reach a conclusion on whether President Donald Trump had tried to obstruct justice, and that he felt compelled to step in with his own judgment that the president had committed no crime.

      “I’m not really sure of his reasoning,” Barr said of Mueller’s obstruction analysis, which neither accused the president of a crime nor exonerated him. “I think that if he felt that he shouldn’t go down the path of making a traditional prosecutive decision then he shouldn’t have investigated. That was the time to pull up.”

      The airing of disagreements over the handling of the report was notable given the highly secretive nature of the special counsel’s investigation and the public appearance for at least most of the probe that the Justice Department and Mueller’s team were unified in approach. But Barr sought to minimize the rift by suggesting the special counsel’s concerns were largely about process, not substance.

    • After Trump Retweet, User Changes Name to ‘F*** Donald Trump’ and Profile Photo to ‘Bernie 2020′

      In the midst of a bizarre Twitter rampage on Wednesday morning, President Donald Trump retweeted an account that subsequently changed its username to “Fuck Donald Trump” and replaced its profile photo with a Bernie 2020 logo.

      The Twitter user apparently tricked the president into retweeting the post by writing, “My husband a New York City firefighter for 15 years will be voting Trump 2020 all the way!!”

      Trump’s retweet, which has since been deleted, was one of dozens of posts the president boosted Wednesday in response to the International Association of Fire Fighters’ endorsement of former Vice President Joe Biden.

    • ‘We Teach, We Vote!’: 10,000 Teachers Rise Up Against Republican Legislature in Deep Red South Carolina

      Demanding an end to austerity measures that have kept classrooms overcrowded and educators underpaid, about 10,000 teachers, students, and supporters staged one of the largest protests in recent years at the South Carolina Statehouse in Columbia on Wednesday.

      Led by the grassroots group SC for Ed, teachers from across the traditionally deep red state took personal days to stage the walkout. The protest is aimed at forcing the Republican-controlled legislature to fund higher wages and more hiring in order to reduce class sizes and staff schools with support staff.

      “For too long we have allowed our schools to go underfunded while taking the blame for the host of issues that come with that,” SC for Ed said in a statement Wednesday. “We hope the state of South Carolina will commit to starting over the process of reform with current classroom teachers at the table.”

    • Bank on the People Instead of Wall Street Parasites

      The U.S. federal debt has more than doubled since the 2008 financial crisis, shooting up from $9.4 trillion in mid-2008 to over $21 trillion in mid-2018 and in excess of $22 trillion in April 2019. This debt is never paid off. The government just keeps paying the interest on it, and interest rates are rising.

      The Fed has announced plans to raise rates by 2020 to “normal” levels — a fed funds target of 3.5 percent — and to sell about $1.5 trillion in federal securities at the rate of $50 billion monthly. This will further grow the mountain of federal debt on the market; and unlike the Fed, which rebates the interest to the government after deducting its costs, the new buyers of these securities will be pocketing the interest, adding to the taxpayers’ bill.

      If the Fed follows through with its plans, projections are that by 2027, U.S. taxpayers will owe $1 trillion annually just in interest on the federal debt. That is enough to fund President Donald Trump’s trillion-dollar infrastructure plan every year, and it is a direct transfer of wealth from the middle class to the wealthy investors holding most of the bonds.

      Where will this money come from? Crippling taxes, wholesale privatization of public assets, and elimination of social services will not be sufficient to cover the bill.

    • Rod Rosenstein Submits Letter of Resignation to Trump

      Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein submitted his resignation Monday, ending a two-year run defined by his appointment of a special counsel to investigate connections between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia. His last day will be May 11.

      Rosenstein’s departure had been expected following the confirmation of William Barr as attorney general. The White House nominated a replacement for the department’s No. 2 slot weeks ago.

      In his resignation letter to Trump, Rosenstein paid tribute to Trump, even praising the president’s sense of humor, despite being the subject of some of Trump’s most biting jabs. Trump once retweeted an image that showed Rosenstein and other officials jailed for treason.

      Rosenstein intended to leave around mid-March but stayed on for the completion of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. Mueller last month submitted his report to the Justice Department, and Rosenstein was part of a small group of department officials who reviewed the document and helped shape its public release. After Mueller didn’t reach a conclusion on whether Trump had obstructed the investigation, Barr and Rosenstein stepped in and determined the evidence wasn’t enough to support such an allegation.

    • My Letter from Joe Biden

      Listening to those words, coming as they were from Sen. Joe Biden, one of the most vociferous defenders of the policies of Bill Clinton’s administration, I knew I was in for a grilling. It was Sept. 15, 1998. I was seated, alone, at a table reserved for witnesses, giving testimony to a joint session of the Senate foreign relations and armed services committees about the reasons behind my resignation as a chief weapons inspector with the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM), charged with overseeing the disarmament of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs. Arrayed before me were some of the most powerful people in the United States, if not the world. The combined membership of these two committees totaled 36 senators, a little over a third of the entire membership of that esteemed body. More than 20 were present at the hearing and, over the course of the next hour and a half, I was questioned in detail by 17 of them, none of whom seemed to object to my presence more than Biden.

      “Let me ask you a question,” Biden continued. “Do you think you should be the one to be able to decide when to pull the trigger?”

      I have reflected on that question numerous times over the years. Part of me rankles at the notion of someone like Biden, who assiduously avoided military service, asking such a question to someone like me, who not only volunteered to serve in the Marine Corps, but did so during wartime, when more than 500,000 other U.S. servicemen and women were doing the trigger-pulling, figuratively and otherwise, based upon the decisions made by others.

    • Why Joe Biden shouldn’t get the Black vote in the 2020 Presidential Election
    • This Isn’t the Election for Democrats to Play It Safe

      As I watched the Democratic candidates for president on television during the recent CNN town hall forum, I thought that at least one of the women among them could make an excellent nominee. I also wondered whether this election cycle may be ripe for a strong campaign led by a woman.

      Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Amy Klobuchar presented as forceful and knowledgeable as they fielded questions at the April 22 event. They were every bit as impressive as Sen. Bernie Sanders and Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who were also participating in the forum. Two other women, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, are in the running for the Democratic nomination as well. With former Vice President Joe Biden finally entering the race, that means 20 people from the Democratic camp are now competing to challenge President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential contest.

      The winner will face a president who is damaged goods. The Mueller Report, too detailed to be forgotten or discredited, continues to chip away at Trump. Whether or not the report prompts an impeachment trial, it’s news, and neither Trump nor his team—including Fox News—can ignore it. (Actually, Trump is embracing the report. He insists that it vindicates him and keeps it at the top of the news every day.)

      Some Democrats—including those who haven’t recovered from Trump’s victory—fear all of this will roll off of him and, protected by poll projections of around 35 to 40 percent support of his base, he will be re-elected. But even the most traumatized Democrats may still concede the Democratic nominee has at least a chance to beat him. That’s one reason why so many candidates are running for the party’s 2020 nomination.

    • From LBJ to Robert Moses: Robert Caro on Writing About Political Power & Its Impact on the Powerless

      Robert Caro is always working. The two-time Pulitzer Prize winner published his first book, “The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York,” 45 years ago and has spent the decades since meticulously chronicling the life and times of Lyndon B. Johnson. The result is four sweeping volumes that total more than 3,000 pages and offer an unprecedented window into the inner world of one of the country’s most influential presidents. And he’s not done yet—Caro is currently writing the fifth and final installment of the collection. Robert Caro has been described as “the greatest political biographer of our times,” but to reduce his work as simply biographies of great men misses the point. Caro uses both Moses and Johnson to show how political power works. Robert Caro has just released a new book—by far the smallest volume in his collection—titled “Working.” It offers an inside look into the author’s meticulous research and writing process. We speak with Robert Caro in our New York studio.

    • ‘We Cannot Stand for This Deception’: Democrats Demand Probe Into Barr Amid News of Mueller Criticism

      As the Washington Post reported, Mueller sent a letter to Barr in March expressing concern that the Attorney General’s widely criticized four-page memo about the investigation into President Donald Trump “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance” of the findings.

      “There is now public confusion about critical aspects of the results of our investigation,” Mueller wrote. “This threatens to undermine a central purpose for which the Department appointed the Special Counsel: to assure full public confidence in the outcome of the investigations.”

      News of Mueller’s letter came just hours ahead of Barr’s scheduled testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

      “No wonder he’s scared to answer questions,” tweeted Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), apparently referring to Barr’s threat to cancel his planned appearance before the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday.

      Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii)—who led a dozen Senate Democrats in calling for an investigation into Barr’s conduct just before details of Mueller’s letter emerged Tuesday—said the Special Counsel’s concerns strongly confirmed the need for a probe.

    • Fascism Is on the March. We Need Radical Education to Fight Back.

      Something sinister and horrifying is happening to liberal democracies all over the globe. Democratic institutions, such as the independent media, schools, the legal system, certain financial institutions, and higher education are under siege worldwide. Some of the latest examples of this can be found in the resurgence of vigilantes and right-wing militia groups along the southern border and the intrusion of tech-based educational practices into schools producing curricula that some parents claim turn kids into zombies. Trump’s continued attack on higher education offers another highly visible example: His proposed 2020 budget request would enact a staggering $7.1 billion reduction in the Education Department as part of a policy to dismantle the department itself.

      The promise of democracy is receding as present-day fascists work to subvert language, values, courage, vision and a critical consciousness. Education has increasingly become a tool of domination as the entrepreneurs of hate deploy right-wing pedagogical apparatuses to attack workers, Black youth, refugees, immigrants and others they consider disposable. In the midst of a moment when an older social order is crumbling and a new one is struggling to define itself, there emerges a moment of confusion and danger. We are once again at a historical juncture in which the structures of liberation and authoritarianism are vying over the future.

      The history of the present has reached a point when, in the words of Peter Thompson, “possibilities are either realized or rejected but never disappear completely.” Two worlds are colliding: First, as a number of scholars have observed, there is the harsh and crumbling world of neoliberal globalization and its mobilizing passions that fuel different strands of fascism across the globe, including the United States. Power is now enamored with amassing profits and capital and is increasingly addicted to a politics of white nationalism and racial cleansing. Second, as Charles Derber argues in Welcome to the Revolution, there is the world of counter movements, which is growing especially among young people, with their search for a new politics that can rethink, reclaim and invent a new understanding of democratic socialism, untainted by capitalism.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Impossible Content Moderation Dilemmas: Talking About Racism Blocked As Hate Speech

      For all the completely evidence-free talk of “anti-conservative bias” on social media, as we keep pointing out, the real problem is that moderating content at scale is impossible to do well. I know I’ve been repeating this a lot lately, but it’s because some people still don’t seem to be getting this, or why it’s important.

      Take, for example, this recent USA Today story talking about the content moderation woes not of conservatives on the platform, but of black users trying to talk about racism on Facebook. Or women talking about sexism. It’s getting blocked as hate speech.

    • Censorship Can’t Be The Only Answer to Disinformation Online

      With measles cases on the rise for the first time in decades and anti-vaccine (or “anti-vax”) memes spreading like wildfire on social media, a number of companies—including Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram, and GoFundMe—recently banned anti-vax posts.

      But censorship cannot be the only answer to disinformation online. The anti-vax trend is a bigger problem than censorship can solve. And when tech companies ban an entire category of content like this, they have a history of overcorrecting and censoring accurate, useful speech—or, even worse, reinforcing misinformation with their policies. That’s why platforms that adopt categorical bans must follow the Santa Clara Principles on Transparency and Accountability in Content Moderation to ensure that users are notified when and about why their content has been removed, and that they have the opportunity to appeal.

      Many intermediaries already act as censors of users’ posts, comments, and accounts, and the rules that govern what users can and cannot say grow more complex with every year. But removing entire categories of speech from a platform does little to solve the underlying problems.

      Tech companies and online platforms have other ways to address the rapid spread of disinformation, including addressing the algorithmic “megaphone” at the heart of the problem and giving users control over their own feeds.

    • The Wisconsin Supreme Court Gets Section 230 Right

      The decision was lengthy, and referenced a litany of cases interpreting Section 230, nearly all of which the Court of Appeals had earlier discounted. Like this one, Section 230 cases are often tough cases. Terrible things have happened, and there can be a tremendous, and completely reasonable, temptation by courts to find some way to provide a remedy. Even if it means trying to hold an Internet platform liable, and even if Section 230 should prevent them from doing so.

      But as we pointed out in our briefs, there is always more at stake than just the case at hand. Whittling away at Section 230′s important protection because one plaintiff may be worthy leaves all the other worthy online speech we value vulnerable. It is protected only when platforms are protected. When their protection is compromised, so is all the speech they carry. Which is why it is so important for courts to resist the emotion stirred by instant facts and clinically apply the law as it was written, so that instead of helping just one person it will help everyone.

    • What “community standards” did these comments breach? #21

      So: Which of the Guardian’s “community standards” did these comments break?

      Do they “misrepresent the Guardian and its journalists”?
      Are they “persistent trolling or mindless abuse”?
      Are they “spam-like”? Or “obviously commercial”?
      Are they “racism, sexism, homophobia or hate-speech”?
      Are they “extremely offensive or threatening?”?
      Are they “flame-wars based on ingrained partisanship or generalisations”?
      Are they not “relevant”?
      If none of the above – why were they taken down?

    • There’s a Battle Brewing at Google Over Employee Speech. The Outcome Affects Us All.

      Retaliating against Big Tech employees who push their employers to do the right thing is a threat to us all.
      The outcome of a battle heating up at Google over the limits of employee free speech will have huge consequences for all of us. Will Google shut down internal dissent and silence whistleblowers? Or will the company live up to its initial motto, “Don’t be evil?”

      In 2017, researchers Meredith Whittaker and Kate Crawford founded the AI Now Institute at New York University, with the goal of “produc[ing] interdisciplinary research on the social implications of artificial intelligence [in] four key domains: rights and liberties, labor and automation, bias and inclusion, and safety and critical infrastructure.” Since then, the group has published key research on race and gender discrimination in AI, public agency accountability, litigation related to algorithms, and more. (Full disclosure: The ACLU is a proud partner of AI Now.)

      Both Whittaker and Crawford have strong ties to the tech industry. The former is the founder of Google’s Open Research Group, and the latter is a principal researcher at Microsoft. Both women still work for these companies, even though their work at AI Now often critiques the tech industry’s shortcomings and offers a perspective rooted in human and civil rights, instead of profit maximization — an unorthodox perspective in the Valley, to put it mildly.

      For years, I’ve been impressed that Whittaker and Crawford could simultaneously work for and offer public critiques of these big tech companies and took that as an indication that Google and Microsoft are mature, if problematic, institutions. A willingness to tolerate internal dissent is important in any organization. Fostering such an environment is especially critical for companies like Google and Microsoft in the United States, where lawmakers have largely refused to impose regulations, leaving a dangerous amount of power in the hands of an elite — and often obsessively secretive — few in Silicon Valley.

    • How does Russia actually enforce its ban on ‘fake news’? An activist in Arkhangelsk faces double jeopardy over a post on social media

      On April 25, 2019, police in Arkhangelsk charged an activist with illegally disseminating “fake news,” after she reposted information about a local demonstration against the construction of a new landfill site. Officials say Elena Kalinina spread false information about the rally, knowing that organizers didn’t have the city’s permission to march along the demonstration’s planned route. The authorities had already fined Kalinina for the same post on the grounds that it incited public participation in an unpermitted protest. Russian law prohibits double jeopardy, and though the rally Kalinina promoted did take place, she nevertheless faces another misdemeanor conviction.

    • Twenty-one States Inadvertently Tell The DC Circuit That The Plaintiffs Challenging FOSTA Have A Case

      The constitutional challenge to FOSTA chugs on. A few weeks ago the DOJ filed its opposition brief to defend FOSTA, and then last week several amicus briefs were filed intending to support the government’s side. But in reading the one filed by twenty-one state attorneys general, it seems that’s not what it did.

      The important thing to remember about this appeal is that the question before the appeals court isn’t really about the constitutionality of FOSTA itself. What’s being appealed is the case having been dismissed for lack of standing by the plaintiffs. The district court never directly ruled on the constitutionality of the law; it only ruled that these plaintiffs had no right to complain about it to the courts. According to the district court these plaintiffs weren’t being hurt, or likely to be hurt, by FOSTA, and so it dismissed their case. What the parties are fighting about now is whether this assessment by the district court was right.

      For the plaintiffs it makes sense to keep pressing the constitutional issue because shining a light on the unconstitutionality of the law illuminates the injury the unconstitutionality has already caused and will continue to cause. But the defense has a different and much simpler job. All the DOJ has to do to defend FOSTA is say is, “The district court was right. These people were not hurt by FOSTA and will not be hurt by FOSTA, so keep this case dismissed.” If the appeals court agrees that there has been no injury, and that there is unlikely to be any injury, then the case remains dismissed and this constitutional challenge goes away.


      Which perhaps wouldn’t be so much of a problem if states were carefully focused on actual instances of sex trafficking. But the amici themselves are proof that such restraint is unlikely.

      In particular, note that one of the states on the brief is Florida. Now think back to just a few months ago when Florida prosecutors stole attention away from the Super Bowl with their announcement that they had broken up a “sex trafficking” operation in Palm Beach… which then turned out not to be a sex-trafficking operation after all.

      It was sex work prosecutors had discovered, sure, but at least three of the plaintiffs challenging FOSTA are advocates for sex workers, in no small part because they believe that advocating for sex workers helps keep them safe and out of the clutches of sex traffickers. They sued because they are worried about how the vague language of FOSTA can be used against their advocacy.

    • The author of one of Russia’s most popular Telegram channels has verified his identity in a new interview

      Alexander Gorbunov has confirmed in an interview with the BBC Russian Service that he is the author of StalinGulag, one of the most popular Telegram channels in Russia. The 27-year-old Makhachkala native launched the channel in 2016, three years after starting an anonymous Twitter account with the same name.

      Explaining why he named his project after the USSR’s most notorious dictator, Gorbunov said, “It’s a kind of trolling. Someone comes to a channel with Stalin in the avatar and sees ‘StalinGulag,’ and thinks it’s going to be full of praise for that period, and then they see something completely the opposite.” “In fact,” Gorbunov told the BBC immodestly, “StalinGulag is the only popular Telegram channel that writes about how things actually are.”

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Doubts at the NSA: Shelving a Mass Surveillance Program

      Earlier this year, Luke Murry, national security adviser for Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, revealed that the National Security Agency had been averse over the last six months to using the phone surveillance program that hoovers information from millions of US phone calls and text messages. This was hardly a comforting point; the issue spoke as much to competence as it did to any broader issue of warrantless surveillance of the good people in Freedom’s land. Vast, cumbersome, and generally self-defeating, the essence of such programs is paranoid inefficiency. Put it down to “technical issues”, suggested Murry.

      The Call Details Records (CDR) program, hostile to liberties in its warrantless nature, has been a fixture of the US security landscape since 2001, when that nasty piece of legislation known as the USA PATRIOT ACT found its way onto the statue books. The program was given legal approval by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court pursuant to Section 215 of that dastardly piece of penmanship.

      The extent of its operation was unveiled in dramatic fashion by Edward Snowden to media outlets in 2013, the surveillance system specific to gathering the metadata of domestic phone calls, a mosaic of caller, recipient and time of contact, has been the subject of scrutiny. There are numerous others, but this one came in for special attention.

      As Elliot Harmer of the Electronic Frontier Foundation explains, “While these records don’t contain the actual contents of telephone calls, they do include phone numbers and call times and length – more than enough information to prove the NSA with a clear picture of our social relationships, interests and affiliations.”

    • Finally! Google Will Let You ‘Auto-Delete’ The Data It Collects On You [Ed: More hogwash from Google, which still lets NSA et al have almost direct access to all this data. Maybe GAFAM will limit retention time, but what about their Pentagon partners?]

      It’s an open secret that Google tracks users’ activity on the internet and has collected a trove of data from it. The company has faced severe backlash in the past for its data collection policies, and lawmakers have strictly advised Google to maintain transparency in the data it collects from its users.

    • Google adds auto-delete feature for location data on phones [Ed: Nonsensical publicity stunt from surveillance capitalism giant Google after it got caught hoarding your location data all the time, even when you turn that off]
    • Dark Web Users Aren’t Completely Anonymous On Tor Network

      Over the span of last few years, the popularity of Dark Web has increased significantly and it continues to entice users every day with the privacy and anonymity it offers in the shadowy part of the world wide web.

      The content on Dark Web can be accessed by The Onion Routing (TOR) which is an anonymous network. However, a recently published paper has found that you cannot be completely anonymous on the Tor network while accessing the dark web.


      In this study, the number of Tor users was estimated on the basis of the directory requests made by the Tor client. The directory requests then disassemble IP addresses according to country codes.

      These IP addresses were found through ISPs that recognize Tor network connections via a continuously updated Tor relay list. The requests of directories are also numbered frequently for the clients. These numbers, together, represent the number of Dark Web users indirectly.

      The study also analyzed the influence of the dark web on various parts of society. It represents a new evaluation of the current state of the dark web by estimating the number of Tor users. For further insights, you can refer to the complete report here.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Why Congress Needs The Office Of Technology Assessment More Than Ever

      In 2015, following a tragic shooting in San Bernardino, California, Congress faced a difficult issue. The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) was in possession of a locked iPhone that belonged to one of the shooters, and it wanted to gain access to that phone as part of its investigation. Members of Congress found themselves in the middle of a contentious debate over whether Apple should be required to unlock the phone to give the FBI access to its contents. During this pivotal time, Congress did not have an unbiased source of information to turn to for an explanation of the technical feasibility and societal implications of requiring Apple to enable the FBI to bypass those protections. In the absence of such a source, we were forced to rely solely on the input of the FBI and of Apple—two players who had strong, conflicting interests at play in the debate.

      But that wasn’t always the case. For more than twenty years we had the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA), an independent, bipartisan agency set up to provide unbiased information on technology and its potential impacts. However, in 1995 the agency was defunded, stripping Congress of the ability to access unbiased tech advisors as we entered the digital age. Today, as Americans are feeling the effects of emerging technologies—including issues around data privacy and artificial intelligence—we are experiencing the repercussions of the decision to defund this vital piece of the Congressional support system.

    • The Widespread Impact of Domestic Violence

      María Salguero knows how to leverage her background as a geophysical engineer on behalf of women. Since 2016, she has been tracking cases of femicide (also known as feminicide) all over Mexico. Femicide is the deliberate killing of a woman or girl because of their gender.

      Every year, there are tens of thousands of missing women, men and children in Mexico, most of whom are believed to have been tortured and killed. According to government figures, there were more than 38,000 ‘desaparecidos’ in 2018. Salguero has been building a database with information about women who have been killed because official figures tend to minimize the problem. The women killed are at the end of a tragic spectrum of abuse of women at the hands of men.

      Intimate partner violence is the most common kind of aggression experienced by women worldwide, both in developing and in industrialized countries. A great number of women suffer physical violence and a significant proportion among them are also victims of psychological violence. However, many women do not report the abuse they suffer because of cultural norms and fear of retribution.

    • How Everyday Language Centers Some People and Excludes Others

      Here’s a headline I saw recently: “Black female physicist pioneers technology that kills cancer cells with lasers.”

      And here’s a prediction: If the physicist had been a white man instead of a black woman, he would’ve been simply called a “physicist” — not a “white male physicist.”

      As comedian Hannah Gadsby put it, straight, white, able-bodied cisgender men are viewed in our society as “human neutral.” The rest of us are “other.” We’re notable for not being men, not being white, not being straight, and so on.

      Take this exchange I had with a coworker recently. He said that a certain piece of backpacking gear came in two varieties — women’s and unisex. It isn’t particularly uncommon for outdoor gear to designate the option that isn’t “women’s” as “unisex.”

      I pointed out that it’s interesting that the option that isn’t specifically for women is seen as universal, for all humans. My coworker said, “Well, the women’s model is made for someone with wider hips and breasts.” And the unisex one isn’t.

      I let the matter drop, but I wanted to say: “What type of person doesn’t have wide hips and breasts? Is that person unisex?”

      We do this regularly, treating the dominant group in society as normative and other groups as deviant. White people are often described by their gender, whereas people of color are described by their race. “White” is the default form of personhood, so it’s only remarkable and worth mentioning when someone isn’t white.

      A mostly straight, white, able-bodied audience is “mainstream.” A mostly black audience is a black audience. A beauty product made in the skin tone of white people is “nude,” while products made in darker skin tones, if they exist at all, are called something else — like “brown” or “chocolate.”

    • Welcome to the New Algerian Revolution: an Interview with Hamza Hamouchene

      The mass protest movement started just a few days after Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s announcement of his intention to run for a fifth term as president. At first, the mobilisations were small and localised, but they became massive. Every Friday from 22 February, millions of Algerians (some estimates are as high as 17 and 22 million in a country of 42 millions) – young and old, men and women from different social classes – have taken to the streets in a momentous uprising, re-appropriating long confiscated public spaces. These historic Friday marches have been followed by protests by workers in education, health, the justice system, the petrochemical industry, and student and trade union mobilisations, making the contestation a daily matter.

      What started as a rejection of the candidacy of a physically unfit octogenarian president has transformed in face of the obstinacy and deceptive ploys of the ruling elites into a united rejection of the ruling system, with demands for radical democratic change, freedom and justice. This revolt is an expression of the convergence of popular discontent from below with a deep internal crisis within the ruling classes. Basically, those from above can no longer rule in the old ways and those from below can no longer take it.

      It is also the expression of decades of profound pain and anger and a rejection of the repressive authoritarianism, suppression of freedoms, economic and social exclusion, endemic corruption and nepotism, parasitic accumulation and impoverishment, growing social inequalities and uneven economic development in the country. There is a lack of horizons, especially for the unemployed youth risking their lives to reach the northern shores of the Mediterranean to escape the despair and the humiliation of being marginalised and relegated to being Hittiste – the unemployed who ceased to be stakeholders in post-colonial Algeria. And all of this taking place in a rich country like ours!

    • Death of the Art House Revolution: Can the Americanized West Ever Stage a Real Rebellion?

      Consider that since 2008, the filmic output of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has grossed more than seven billion dollars. Mind you, this is not DC Comics, so no Superman, Batman, or Aquaman. This is Black Panther, Spider-Man, Thor, Avengers, X-Men, Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, and so forth. And don’t kid yourself. These days it is mostly adults flocking to the theaters in anxious anticipation of how their childhood heroes will rescue the world from the latest miscreant or megalith or monstrosity. For its part, DC Comics has grossed some five billion with its Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Justice League, and Suicide Squad fare, but DC also reaches back into the Seventies, when Christopher Reeve was inhabiting the Clark Kent attire. Marvel commands the throne of comic-book fantasy at the moment. And Disney has some 20 new film slotted into the starting gate in the next few years.

      In many respects what all this superhero cinema reveals is the startling infantilism of the American mind. Benjamin Barber foresaw this some years ago in his excellent cultural exposition, Consumed. The infantilization of the American masses produces the ideal state for consumption: blissfully ignorant and driven by impulsive desires and fears, largely uninformed by any evaluative research let alone the consequences of spending. The critical faculties of adults are absent in the infantile consumer. Surely adults that continually appease their fears (or boredom) with fantasies of caped crusaders rescuing the sheeple from certain destruction participate in this sophomoric recidivism. This is not to say there isn’t plenty of good product out there to enjoy. There is, but it is rather to suggest that our level of indoctrination is such that any thought of radical revolution, real rebellion, is almost immediately derailed or redirected into consumer escapes.

      It is instructive to see the disposable dollars we fling into the coffers of Hollywood, because we do not put nearly that amount of money or time into producing authentic change for the tens of millions of us who labor beneath the extractive engines of neoliberal capitalism. Rather than construct real transformation, we opt for escapism. Our revolutions happen on cinema screens rather than side streets. Perhaps the scope and reach of the neoliberal world is too large a task, so that it stuns us into inaction. For our vantage point, the exploitation economy rolls over the horizons of our vision, no end in sight. But imagine if just half that movie money had been poured into the coffers of a socialist third party. Or a party that simply insisted that public needs be solved by socialist government ‘intervention’ rather than some shoddy pretext of market efficiency. Instead, Bernie Sanders has to flood your inbox with hectoring prophecies of doom just to scrape together a pile of $27 donations to run his campaign.

    • Finding Common Ground on Repealing the Death Penalty

      How ending capital punishment transcends the political divide.
      What do Michael Bloomberg and Oliver North have in common? How about Michelle Malkin and Kim Kardashian West, or Ron Paul and Bernie Sanders? They may not share much turf when it comes to their political or social views, but they do all agree on one point that may surprise you.

      They all oppose the death penalty.

      Support for repealing the death penalty is diverse, it is growing, and it is bipartisan in nature. The brokenness of the death penalty system, long documented in local headlines and the cases they highlight, has hit a turning point with the public. This year alone, Republicans sponsored death penalty-repeal bills in ten states. That’s in keeping with trends that my organization, Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty, has been tracking since 2012.

      I am a walking example of this trend.

      Growing up as a conservative and as the daughter of a Southern Baptist minister, my views on the death penalty were for many years exactly what one might expect—absolutely pro. But I changed my stance after finally digging deeper, and learning just how frequently innocent people are caught up in the system. I learned about the outrageous costs of the death penalty’s operation. I learned that the death penalty does not deter crime. I learned of the extraordinary arbitrariness and racial bias in sentencing.

    • To Defeat ICE, We Need to Target Its Backers — Microsoft and Amazon

      Over 10 years ago today, we saw a historic turning point in Latinx politics, especially for Latinx immigrants who bravely stood together to build political power for our shared future.

      Culminating on May Day 2006, millions of people marched in protests in more than 140 cities in 39 states across the country in response to the “Border Protection, Anti-Terrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act” — a draconian piece of legislation passed in 2005 by the House of Representatives, but not by the Senate, that sought to raise penalties for unauthorized immigration and classified undocumented immigrants and anyone who helped them enter or remain in the U.S. as felons. The introduction of this anti-immigrant legislation resulted in a wave of Latinx voters at the polls and the beginning of the “undocumented, unafraid” movement.

      Now, more than a decade later, the current administration has escalated the assault against Latinx communities to a new extreme, aggressively undercutting our communities’ ability to organize against its dangerous policies and practices.

      With the help of big data and the leading technology companies, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has the means to commit egregious government overreach. ICE is creating a police state of wide-scale surveillance, and the technology providers that we use every day are helping it. The administration has the help of many large technology companies, including Amazon, Microsoft and Palantir, which are selling out customers by collecting their data and profiting off the targeting and harassment of our communities.

    • We Got U.S. Border Officials to Testify Under Oath. Here’s What We Found Out.

      ICE and CBP allow unfettered, warrantless searches of travelers’ digital devices, and empower officers to dodge the Fourth Amendment
      In September 2017, we, along with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, sued the federal government for its warrantless and suspicionless searches of phones and laptops at airports and other U.S. ports of entry.

      The government immediately tried to dismiss our case, arguing that the First and Fourth Amendments do not protect against such searches. But the court ruled that our clients — 10 U.S. citizens and one lawful permanent resident whose phones and laptops were searched while returning to the United States — could move forward with their claims.

      Since then, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement have had to turn over documents and evidence about why and how they conduct warrantless and suspicionless searches of electronic devices at the border. And their officials have had to sit down with us to explain — under oath — their policies and practices governing such warrantless searches.

      What we learned is alarming, and we’re now back in court with this new evidence asking the judge to skip trial altogether and rule for our clients.

      The information we uncovered through our lawsuit shows that CBP and ICE are asserting near-unfettered authority to search and seize travelers’ devices at the border, for purposes far afield from the enforcement of immigration and customs laws. The agencies’ policies allow officers to search devices for general law enforcement purposes, such as investigating and enforcing bankruptcy, environmental, and consumer protection laws. The agencies also say that they can search and seize devices for the purpose of compiling “risk assessments” or to advance pre-existing investigations. The policies even allow officers to consider requests from other government agencies to search specific travelers’ devices.

    • The United States of Incarceration

      You’ve got to give it to the Defense Department – they’re assiduous planners. I know: I used to be one. So the latest news that the DOD is preparing its 40 remaining forever prisoners at the extralegal detention center of Guantanamo Bay for nursing home and hospice care, should come as little surprise. It still shocks the senses a bit, though, doesn’t it? The U.S. military, at the behest of the Bush-Cheney axis of secrecy, initially chose to detain post-9/11 “terror” suspects at Gitmo specifically, in order to keep the inmates “beyond the reach of usual US law.” How’s that for human rights and America’s self-proclaimed status as the world’s “beacon of freedom?”

      To be honest, I actually appreciate the candor of the Trump administration and its soldiers-turned-prison-guards. It’s almost refreshing (if utterly disturbing). They’re essentially admitting what those us who follow the darkly absurd terror wars have long known – that these final prisoners are never being released. Ever. Nope, DOD is simply planning to keep these folks under lock and key forever. The reason why is more than a little unsettling: most were tortured into confessions that can’t be used in a jury trial, despite the habeas corpus ruling of the court in favor of the Guantanamo inmates. Leave it to the US government to simply refuse to try them or to let them go – consider it penal purgatory without due process.

      By the way, almost no one cares. These are “bad guys,” right? Perhaps. Though many scores of earlier detainees were released without charge, so I’m skeptical of America’s record on the issue. Still, a great author – Dostoyevsky – once wrote, presciently, that “The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.” Well, if that’s true than God help the collective American soul.

      These forever prisoners will die without a trial – the oldest is 71 years old – because the Justice Department is afraid to charge them (due to the torture), and the US Congress – in a rare bipartisan vote – blocked every one of President Obama’s attempts to transfer them to US supertax prisons. The uni-bomber, the 1993 World Trade Center mastermind, serial killers like Jeffrey Dahmer and Ted Bundy, and even Timothy McVeigh (of OKC Federal building bombing fame): all these and more were safely held in these maximum security facilities, but somehow we were led to believe that the Guantanamo detainees would pose an escape threat to society. It was all bunk, and the congressmen knew it. The vote was a political move to protect their own you-know-whats from angry, bigoted constituents. Don’t look for any courage on Capitol Hill, you’ll be searching indefinitely.

    • New Report Names Nearly 4,000 Companies Profiting Off of Private Prison Industry

      A new report provides information on which corporations are profiting from the private prison industry.

      The report (pdf), which was released by criminal justice advocacy group Worth Rises, is based on a database run by the organization that lists a total 3,900 companies in 12 sectors that make money off of the prison industrial complex.

      The scope of the income taken in by these companies, the report says, is in the tens of billions.

    • More than 100 arrested in May 1 demonstrations around Russia as government supporters hold celebrations nearby

      More than 100 different demonstrations swept through Russia’s streets on May 1, and more than 120 participants were arrested in nine cities. More than 60 of those arrests took place in St. Petersburg when police officers stopped opposition activists carrying a banner that read “Petersburg against United Russia” from walking down the city’s central Nevsky Prospekt. Meduza correspondent Pavel Merzlikin summarizes the events of the day.

    • Mental Health in the Time of Existential Threats

      To prepare for a yearly physical examination, I received a questionnaire that addressed emotional health. I had read somewhere… I cannot remember where… that physicians were addressing these emotional concerns as part of an attempt to look at the whole (I can’t come up with a better description here) person in assessing overall health.

      So, how’s my mental health in 2019? To answer this complex question, I have to go back to the early 1970s and mention a psychiatrist who practiced in Rhode Island where I lived. His name was Alfred Fireman, and he became known because he had gained a measure of notoriety in the local media and in the local peace movement for his work in the antiwar movement during the Vietnam War. He was known as a go-to psychiatrist, and there were many across the U.S., for those seeking to avoid or resist the draft because of mental health issues. If memory serves me correctly, Dr. Fireman became known as a doctor who would attempt to write a person out of the draft on mental health grounds, so they knew him at both the federal government and at the Selective Service.

      My case was different, as I was appealing an order to report for active duty in the army from the Reserves. A psychologist in Dr. Fireman’s office interviewed me and Dr. Fireman signed the evaluation that stated I was unfit for active duty in the military. My lawyer in New York City had reached similar conclusions when he observed in his office on Broadway in Greenwich Village that he could see that I was unfit for the military after interviewing me and reviewing my case to prepare for an appeal of the army’s order. I also raised questions about the immorality of the Vietnam War and the violations of international laws because of that war, but no one would listen.

    • Nobody is sure who writes one of Russia’s most popular political Telegram channels, but police may have just raided his family’s home in Dagestan

      With more than 300,000 subscribers and each post averaging an audience of 184,000 views, StalinGulag is one of Telegram’s most popular politics channels in Russia. The author responsible for the content, which is often highly critical of the state authorities, remains a mystery. In July 2018, the magazine RBC reported that the channel belongs to Makhachkala native Alexander Gorbunov. (StalinGulag denied this claim.) There have been other theories about who runs the channel, as well. For instance, Vasily Prozorov, a former official in Ukraine’s National Security Service, said in March 2019 that Ukrainian intelligence officers are the ones behind StalinGulag.

    • Last Rights: Making Sense of the Supreme Court’s Series of Death Penalty Rulings

      Domineque Ray, set to be executed by the state of Alabama in February, made an appeal to have his imam by his side at his death. To deny him that was unconstitutional, Ray’s lawyers argued. Christian chaplains had been present for Alabama executions for years. Ray’s appeal made it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

      In a 5-4 ruling, the court said no to Ray. Ray’s request, it held, came too late, and it would have required Alabama to train Ray’s chosen imam in security measures in order for him to be present for the execution.

      Justice Elena Kagan, dissenting, saw the ruling as a grave mistake.

      “To justify such religious discrimination, the State must show that its policy is narrowly tailored to a compelling interest,” she wrote. “I have no doubt that prison security is an interest of that kind. But the State has offered no evidence to show that its wholesale prohibition on outside spiritual advisers is necessary to achieve that goal.”

      Ray, without his spiritual counselor, was executed on Feb. 7.

    • ICE Is Monitoring and Targeting Immigration Activists

      Internal documents made public on Monday reveal that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) monitored hundreds of local protests against the Trump administration’s zero tolerance immigration policy as public anger over family separation reached a boiling point last summer.

      The DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis circulated a detailed list of more than 600 planned protests against family separation during a national day of action in June 2018, according to agency records released to immigration and refugee rights groups under the Freedom of Information Act. Under the now-defunct family separation policy, all adult asylum seekers apprehended at the border were automatically jailed and their children placed in a jumbled web of detention facilities and federal bureaucracy.

      Designed by administration hardliners as a supposed immigration “deterrent,” the policy provoked widespread outrage and protests across the country. Activists say the surveillance of the national day of action is just the latest evidence that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and others in law enforcement are using federal resources to monitor dissent and target undocumented immigrants and asylum seekers who challenge the administration’s harsh detention and deportation policies.

      “We already knew that the administration had been harassing activists, lawyers and journalists who have been shining a spotlight on the family separation crisis,” said Jess Morales Rocketto, chair of Families Belong Together, in a statement Monday. “The surveillance of last summer’s protests is further proof that this administration is politicizing law enforcement and violating our basic civil rights.”

    • A Border Crisis of Our Own Making

      For more than 30 years, I’ve led faith-focused delegations to Central America — and since 2016, to U.S.-Mexico border communities. We’ve taken nuns, bishops, rabbis, and grassroots congregants to learn about realities rarely covered in the news.

      This April our delegation visited El Paso, Brownsville, and McAllen, Texas, as well as Juarez and Matamoras, Mexico. We talked to U.S. border patrol agents, religious and NGO workers on the ground, and migrants who recently crossed over, including those caged under the bridge in El Paso.

      The migrants’ stories, gaunt faces, and vulnerability continue to haunt me. Nearly all the children were sick, and some were so malnourished their hair was whitening.

      The discrepancy between what’s portrayed in the media and what our delegation witnessed is stark. I worry for my country as fear-mongering politicians spread disinformation, instead of the truth: What we’re seeing at the border is a crisis of our own making.

      While we were in those Texas border communities, I read the White House’s daily email blasts depicting an “invasion” of criminals, gang members, and traffickers pushing children across the border.

      Yet everywhere we went, we felt safe — and our faith partners living in U.S. border communities report that they do too. Research has shown that undocumented immigrants are far less likely to commit crimes than native-born Americans.

    • The Rehabilitation of Gina Haspel by the New York Times

      Last week, the New York Times did its best to rehabilitate CIA director Gina Haspel, who was one of the agency’s leading proponents and players in the unconscionable policy of torture and abuse in CIA’s secret prisons. Today, the New York Times doubled down on its bet, and ran a letter to the editor from a former operations officer, Douglas Wise, who predictably extolled the virtues of “Bloody Gina.” Whereas the Times’ reporters credited Haspel with the “skills of a spy,” the CIA operative explained that it was “not spycraft (sic); it’s professionalism.” The one thing that the Times and the letter writer have in common is the purveying of bullshit.

      The obvious issue concerns their belief that Haspel has genuinely ingratiated herself with the commander-in-chief. Their view is “yes;” my answer is “you must be kidding.” Let’s review the bidding. The CIA believes that Russian hacking took place during the 2015-2016 presidential campaign. The president believes Russian President Vladimir Putin’s denials. The CIA believes that North Korea continues to expand its nuclear weapons program. The president’s love affair with Kim Jong Un has no room for such nuclear activity.

      It gets worse. The CIA believes that Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman orchestrated the killing of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The president has accepted the Saudi denials of the crown prince’s involvement. The CIA has credited Iran with honoring all aspects of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. The president and his secretary of state falsely accuse Iran of violations and have the United States from an important international nuclear agreement. On and on it goes.

      The Times and the CIA operative argue that Haspel has created an “effective relationship with the president.” Indeed, the operative calls it “masterful.” In actual fact, the president began a war on the intelligence community, particularly the CIA, before he was even inaugurated. The CIA, after all, was compared to the Gestapo of the Third Reich!

    • Dagestani state minister is jailed on embezzlement charges

      Two days after police arrested him at the airport in Makhachkala, Dagestan’s economic and territorial development minister, Osman Khasbulatov, has been formally placed in pretrial detention, while investigators build their case against him. Khasbulatov is charged with embezzling more than 20 million rubles ($306,700) when fulfilling government contracts to equip several multipurpose centers in Dagestan.

    • Russian police to investigate video of preschool principal forcing child who ‘said he hated Russia’ to kiss the ground

      A video posted to the YouTube channel Typical Krasnodar showed a preschool principal forcing a young child to get down on his knees and kiss the ground. The principal, whose name is reportedly Emma Milner, said the boy was difficult to work with and had said he “hated Russia.” In the video, Milner can be heard telling him to kiss “the soil that feeds and waters him” before pushing his head toward the ground. The principal subsequently gave a short speech to the young children and caretakers around her about nationalism and the pride they should take in being Russian.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Why the Demise of the T-Mobile/Sprint Merger Would Be Good News for You

      This week marks one year since the announcement of the proposed merger between T-Mobile and Sprint, and it’s not looking good for the $26.5-billion deal. That’s great news for people across the country struggling to afford wireless services.

      In March, I testified before Congress on how the deal would harm low-income people and people of color, and how it would hurt Lifeline too — a program that provides a modest $9.25 subsidy to low-income individuals for voice or broadband service. It was the merger’s second congressional hearing in a month, a sure sign of growing skepticism about the deal’s alleged benefits.

      In response, T-Mobile kicked its public relations and lobbying machine into overdrive, making a slew of new promises, including pledging not to increase prices for three years, promising to enter the home-broadband market, and supposedly committing to stay in the Lifeline program.

  • DRM

    • Apple Stands Against Right To Repair Law, Brings Up Security Concerns

      A new Right to Repair bill is set to get introduced in California, which is already part of around 17 US states. However, Cupertino-based tech major Apple is against the law going official and suggests that it could lead users to harm themselves.

      As per a meeting that took place with members of the Privacy and Consumer Protection Committee and CompTIA lobbyist, Apple has suggested that the process of repairing an iPhone is not an easy one and it could cause people to hurt themselves by piercing the lithium-ion battery.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • New York Saxophonist Latest To Sue Fortnite Developers For Supposedly Ripping Off His… ‘Likeness’

      Because there’s no shortage of people willing to believe someone else’s millions can be theirs with minimal effort, another semi-celebrity has hopped aboard law firm Pierce Bainbridge’s Fortnite-suing money train. Destination unknown.

      The law firm has helped everyone from former sitcom star Alfonso Ribeiro to a sentient meme known as “Backpack Kid” throw money into a federal court holes over the past several months. Thanks to a recent ruling by the Supreme Court, most of its copyright infringement lawsuits are on hold because the plaintiffs have yet to actually have protection granted for their dance moves by the US Copyright Office.

      It’s not like this is just a matter of waiting out the Office. The Copyright Office has made it clear it will only extend copyright protection to dance moves showing sufficient creativity. It’s not likely to find most of the dance moves being sued over worth protecting as most of them consist of only a “few movements or steps with minor linear or spatial variations.” One of the first litigants to jump into the Sue Fortnite pool — Alfonso Ribeiro — has already been rejected by the federal government.

    • Claims Survive on Unresolved Question of Fact

      The Central District of California recently denied a motion to dismiss on patent eligibility under 35 U.S.C. § 101 because a question of fact remained unresolved. In MoviePass, Inc. v. Sinemia, Inc., No. CV 2:18-1517 (C.D. Cal. Apr. 5, 2019), the Court held that the question of whether claims of U.S. Patent Nos. 8,484,133 and 8,612,235 are eligible under Section 101 required additional fact finding under the Federal Circuit’s 2018 decisions in Berkheimer v. HP and Aatrix v. Green Shades,.

      Plaintiff MoviePass asserted the ‘133 and the ‘235 patents against Defendant Sinema. The patents are directed to identifying an authorized user’s identity based on the location of a mobile device and, once the user’s identity is verified to be near a chosen movie theater, providing funding to the authorized user to purchase movie tickets.

    • Conditional Dependent Claim Lacking Mutual Exclusivity is Indefinite

      The Central District of California recently held a dependent patent claim indefinite for failing to “specify a further limitation of the subject matter claimed” under 35 U.S.C. § 112. BlackBerry Limited v. Facebook, Inc. et al, No 18-1844-GW(KSx) (C.D. Cal. Apr. 5, 2019).

      Plaintiff, BlackBerry Limited, alleged infringement of United States Patents No. 8,301,713; 8,296,351; 8,676,929, and 8,209,634 by both Defendants, Facebook, Inc. and Snap, Inc. Following a Markman hearing, the Court construed a plurality of claim terms. This blog post discusses dependent claim 2 of the ‘929 patent, which the Court held to be indefinite under 35 U.S.C. § 112(d).


      While conditional claim limitations should be avoided wherever possible, when conditional claim limitations are needed, this case illustrates that mutual exclusivity of the conditions should be made apparent in the claim language. In the present case, neither Claim 1 nor Claim 2 claimed mutual exclusivity of the content information and advertisement, and the Court refused to import such a limitation from the specification into the claims. Since no mutual exclusivity was claimed, the Court found Claim 2 to be indefinite because of the identified inconsistencies that existed between the claims in the example provided by the Court. In this situation, making mutual exclusivity apparent in the claims could have saved Claim 2 from being found indefinite.

    • TTI v. IBG: Federal Circuit clarifies meaning of “technical solution to a technical problem”

      The Federal Circuit affirmed the PTAB that the claims are subject to CBM review and are directed to ineligible subject matter. Along the way it clarified some its jurisprudence interpreting the threshold CBM review regulation.

    • Multiple claims of Uniloc patent held to be unpatentable

      On April 26, 2019, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) issued a final written decision in Unified Patents Inc. v. Uniloc Luxembourg, LLC, IPR2017-02148 holding as unpatentable claims 1-5 and 7-9 of U.S. Patent 6,564,229 owned by NPE Fortress Credit Co. LLC and asserted by Uniloc Luxembourg, S.A., another notorious NPE and exclusive licensee of the ’229 patent. The ’229 patent, generally directed to pausing move or copy operations within a data processing system, has been widely asserted against such companies as Square Enix, Nexon America, Big Fish Games, Ubisoft, Kaspersky Lab, and Akamai Technologies.

    • 2019’s biggest patent case has nothing to do with patents

      In a report published by IAM, Unified’s Chief Patent Counsel Jonathan Stroud explains that the US Supreme Court’s biggest patent law case of the year may in fact have nothing to do with patents. Most patent lawyers have probably never heard of Kisor v. Wilkie (argued in March 2019), a sleepy veteran’s appeal that—at first blush—appears to have little relation to patent law.

    • Trademarks

      • A slippery design can’t slide away from invalidation at EUIPO

        Designs are often denied the IP limelight. This is for many reasons. One cause is perhaps a little circular: because designs are less well known less people file them than TMs and patents and therefore they receive less attention. The media’s tendency to report design disputes as copyright decisions does not help things.

        Whatever the reason, the cycle of limited design knowledge continues and this can mean that occasional gems such as the following invalidity decision from EUIPO can be overlooked.

        It is no secret that this GuestKat has a particular interest in the fashion industry, so a recent decision involving Puma, Rihanna and Steven Madden (not to be confused with Madden NFL) piqued her interest.


        Puma had been able to obtain an injunction and damages award from the Dusseldorf court on the basis of the design in a decision dated 28 August 2017. The invalidity division decision which invalidates the design came 18 months later. The apparent ease with which it is possible to obtain an ex parte injunction in Germany is a popular source of debate. This is particularly concerning where RCDs are concerned as the examination process is minimal.

        The Puma RCD was ultimately invalidated by the invalidity division – presumably the German injunction no longer applies as a result (or at least once any appeals have been exhausted).

    • Copyrights

      • For archives only: crafting copyright limitations and exceptions for archives in South Africa

        South Africa’s President is yet to assent to the Copyright Amendment Bill which was presented in March 2019 after approval by the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces (NCOP). While some commentators have urged a swift assent, others have asked the President to deny assent to the Bill and refer the Bill back to the National Assembly for a complete redraft.

        The arguments for and against the enactment of the Bill have never been a general one. Instead, arguments have come from various “constituencies”: publishers, authors and creators, libraries, archives, museums, people with disabilities etc. This trend in copyright reform is not unique to South Africa. In Europe for instance, one need not look further than the debate on the Digital Single Market Directive to see various “camps” for authors, news publishers, online service providers etc. In the international copyright scene, WIPO has taken to calibrating discussions on copyright limitations and exceptions along the lines of specific entities. The Marrakesh Treaty is one example of an international copyright treaty containing limitations and exceptions that cater to a specific constituency: visually impaired persons. Also, one of the key departures in terms of the subject matter discussed at the 38th Session of the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) is the commissioning of a Background Paper on Archives and Copyright. Prior to the 38th Session, previous discussions and papers considered archives alongside libraries and sometimes, museums. See here, here and here.

      • KickAss Proxy List For 2019 [100% Working KickAss Torrents Alternatives]

        Torrenting is an easy means to share large files that uses peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing technology as you’re not dependent on a single source or website. To download files using torrents, you need a torrent search engine.

        There are many torrent sites that you can use to download the file of your choice but choosing the best out of them is a task.

      • Nintendo Slays The Threat From Modded Nintendo Games For The Commodore 64

        Any review of the recent posts we’ve done on gaming giant Nintendo would certainly reveal a disappointing trend. That trend appears to be the company, which has always maintained an aggressively tight grip on its IP, upping its efforts to take down all kinds of ROM sites, fan-made games, and gaming leaks. Gamers here may also already be aware that there is something of an odd fascination in gaming communities with the Commodore 64, an 8-bit gaming computer created way back in 1982 and discontinued in the early 90s. There are thriving modding and porting communities dedicated to figuring out how to get the C64 to do things it was never intended to do.

        Which perhaps makes it surprising that it was only in the last week or so that someone figured out how to get a working C64 to be able to play a port of the original Super Mario Bros. The whole enterprise appears to have nothing to do with wanting to play an illicit copy of the 80s game and everything instead to do with a community of enthusiasts simply tinkering and seeing what could be pulled off for fun. Getting Mario on a Commodore apparently took something like seven years and was hailed as an achievement by the Commodore community. Reactions such as the below are indicative of the responses.

      • Supreme Court Asks White House To Weigh In On Copyrightability Of APIs

        Back during an earlier round of the never-ending legal dispute between Oracle and Google concerning whether or not APIs can be covered by copyright the Supreme Court requested that the White House weigh in on its opinion — leading then Solicitor General Donald Verrilli (formerly a top lawyer for the MPAA) to weigh in with what we argued was a painfully clueless brief. The underlying issue here, from the very beginning, revolves almost entirely around the simple point: do you actually understand what an API is? If you do — and recognize that it’s fundamentally different from executing software code — then this is an easy case. An API is simply an instruction set — a recipe of sorts — for being able to interface with a particular program. And US copyright law is clear that copyright cannot apply to any “idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery.”

        An API is easily covered by that designation, but because you have non-technical lawyers who can’t understand the difference between software operating code (which is copyrightable) and an API (which is not) they argue that the two are virtually identical, and thus APIs should be covered by copyright. Tragically, that argument worked at the appeals court (it didn’t work at the district court, where Judge Alsup already had some coding history and famously taught himself how to program in Java to better understand the facts of the case).

Even EPO Patent ‘Justice’ is Now Measured in Industrial Terms Like ‘Production’ Rather Than Accuracy

Posted in Courtroom, Europe, Patents at 10:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Strip on too many software patents in Europe

Summary: Europe is being flooded with loads of invalid (as per the EPC) patents that are enshrined as European Patents while judges are unable to stop that (there’s a risk to their job if they dare try)

THE concept of justice ceased to exist at the European Patent Office (EPO), both inwards and outwards, i.e. towards employees and the public/stakeholders. Criminals who loot the Office are not being held accountable and innocent, law-abiding staff which insists on basic rights being respected gets punished — or worse — led to illness, sometimes suicide.

“If justice at the EPO wasn’t already sufficiently destroyed, with annual reports from judges bemoaning (out in the open) their loss of independence, now comes another report.”Remember what Battistelli has done even to judges. There was collective punishment (for all colleagues) and António Campinos has not brought them back to Munich after they were illegally sent to exile. This confirmed many people’s fears that Campinos would cover up for his ‘master’, who had rigged the process to secure this job for him (a fellow Frenchman and old friend).

If justice at the EPO wasn’t already sufficiently destroyed, with annual reports from judges bemoaning (out in the open) their loss of independence, now comes another report. “The 2018 Annual Report of the Boards of Appeal is out. Have a look here,” the EPO wrote some hours ago, linking to an annual report page (warning: epo.org link). It has been mentioned by WIPR (and cited by us in passing as recently as this morning) before the EPO announced it, which makes one wonder if the EPO’s PR people coordinated a puff piece with WIPR (whose staff told us there’s a degree of coordination between the two). To quote the EPO:

The Annual report of the Boards of Appeal provides detailed statistics on proceedings before the Boards. It also describes general developments in the Boards during the preceding year.

These statistics don’t tell the full story. It’s not the full picture. They’re quantitative rather than qualitative. They also overlook factors such as judges’ fear of reprisal/retribution (if they rule the ‘wrong’ way, where wrong refers to the Office management’s preferences). How many bogus software patents are being accepted?

The EPO has just used two meaningless buzzwords for illegal software patents being granted in Europe (two in one tweet even!). To quote today’s tweet: “Experience the EPO first-hand by joining our next study visit. The focus will be on AI, the 4th industrial revolution and #patents …”

No more “CII”? How about “ICT”? “This one made my day,” Benjamin Henrion wrote this morning. “When you don’t like something, just rebrand it! Just like Trump proposed to rebrand the Boeing MAX737 with another name. Forbidden software patents being rebranded as AI, 4th industrial revolution, and others.”

Can the Board throw out all this “AI” nonsense? It’s the kind of rubbish SUEPO was alluding to some weeks back.

Regarding the above report, IPPro Magazine’s Barney Dixon and Ben Wodecki (the former speaks with staff, the latter usually just repeats PR from EPO management) have just published this article with a positive headline (as usual, especially for Wodecki). But also as usual, the key bits are further down at the bottom (probably added by Mr. Dixon, based on his source/s). To quote:

The report states that a total of 3,032 technical appeals were received in 2018, an 8.4 percent increase on the previous year. In 2018 2,733 technical appeal cases were settled, a 19.7 percent increase compared with the same period in 2017.


Timings of examinations are of increasing concern to EPO users, with a majority of users requesting greater flexibility in the timing of examination.

The EPO has faced criticism in recent years over its approach to tackling its backlog. Some of these measures have been linked to an increase in production targets for staff and a drop in overall patent quality.

The EPO has faced both protests and petitions against the perceived quality drop.


The Boards of Appeal is also undertaking a “comprehensive” revision of its rules. The report states that the aims of these revisions are intended to increase efficiency by reducing the number of issues to be treated, predictability for the parties, and harmonisation.

The revised rules won’t enter into force until 2020, but the report highlights that active case management by the boards will be a central element to the changes.


A source close to the Staff Union of the EPO said that the Boards of Appeal have already increased their productivity by 18 percent since 2017 and that production/productivity figures are now the “predominant criterion for evaluation” in the Boards of Appeal.

That says nothing about accuracy and quality. One could just assign decisions to a computer and reach decisions within milliseconds, based on so-called ‘AI’ (which doesn’t guarantee anything).

When they’re “increas[ing] their productivity by 18 percent” (read: cutting corners) it doesn’t mean improved justice, only rushed ‘justice’; the same issue that affects examination. You can never deliver a baby in 4.5 months by using two ladies in tandem. Proper work takes time and research, sometimes a lot of effort and contemplation.

Suffice to say, there’s an effort by the EPO to introduce ludicrous courts where judges can be thrown out (limited tenures) and might not even speak the language of defendants! The EPO and the patent zealots thought of altogether replacing or deprecating these boards (even before they lost their independence) and earlier today UDL Intellectual [sic] Property’s [sic] Garry Stuttard was trying to resurrect this zombie. The boards are under attack from many directions; that being the case, no justice can be assured in the EPO, only illusion thereof. It’s a monarchic system of patents where patent maximalism is “God”. God bless “productivity” and “efficiency” (i.e. the granting of as many patents as possible, as fast as possible!).

EPO in 2019: Pushing (and Bribing) for Buzzwords to Bypass/Cheat the Law Whilst Abolishing the Court System

Posted in Courtroom, Deception, Europe, Patents at 3:32 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Turmoil in the litigation ‘industry’ and a complicit EPO that’s pushing the litigation agenda at the expense of public interests

AI hype at EPO

Summary: The disturbing push for abstract patents on mathematics and algorithms continues unabated in Europe; scholars and journalists are being paid (EPO budget) to play along while judges and courts get muzzled and marginalised as they’re the public’s last line of defense from corporate greed

BOTH THE European Patent Office (EPO) and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) nowadays use buzzwords aplenty. The buzzwords are sometimes identical. The EPO intentionally misinterprets the EPC (courts have already said so), whereas the USPTO tries hard to dodge 35 U.S.C. § 101 (SCOTUS precedents). Isn’t it incredible? Patent offices that we’re constantly being told exist to serve the public ever so shamelessly break the law and harm the public.

“Patent offices that we’re constantly being told exist to serve the public ever so shamelessly break the law and harm the public.”We no longer focus on the USPTO (a strategic choice, seeing that patents on software are still perishing there, especially in courts), so let’s look at the latest from the EPO. The management of the EPO keeps calling fake patents on software “AI” and “4IR” (among other things). It tells applicants to use these misleading terms (a bunch of buzzwords promoted by EPO to advance illegal patents on algorithms under the guise of “novelty” or “miracles”). It gets even worse! The EPO literally paid the mainstream media for ‘studies’, in order to promote these buzzwords in relation to software patents in Europe. We covered this before. Some very big publishers in the UK and in Germany were among the recipients of this money. Good use of stakeholders’ money? Bribing media and academicw? It is still being done by António Campinos (it actually started under Battistelli) and the EPO’s Twitter account promotes this kind of bribery almost every single day (it did yesterday as well). Here is a tweet which was retweeted by the EPO this week: “Mr Gerard Owens of the European Patent Office @EPOorg giving the #standardays participants an insight of new trends in the European #patents system #4IR …”

Yes, “4IR”. Ask the EPO’s ‘economist’ what that even means…

The EPO then tweeted: “The next opportunity to visit the EPO will be in Munich. If you want to know more about the EPO’s approach to #artificialintelligence …”

Yes, “AI”. Nowadays a synonym for “computer” or “machine” or “algorithm” (provided it has some “logic” like if/else statements).

We’ve decided to add the above modified cartoon. It’s not only us who are mocking the hype wave. When I write about it online I typically call it “HEY HI!” (AI). Because it’s everywhere, ascribed even to things that have no statistics or anything sophisticated in them. Much of the same can be said about “IoT”, “blockchain”, “cloud”, “smart” and so on…

The EPO has also just said: “We welcome your input. Submit your feedback on our goal of delivering high-quality products and services efficiently here…”

The EPO is not “delivering high-quality” anything. Neither “products” nor “services”. Its own staff union, SUEPO, refuted this lie as recently as weeks ago. The EPO is very well aware of what’s going on, yet it keeps misleading (lying to) the public about it. How long or how much longer can this carry on?

“How do you find out if your idea is novel? You do it by searching for prior art,” the EPO wrote this week. Does the EPO give examiners sufficient time to search for prior art? No. And to make matters worse, the EPO actually blocks technical sites such as Techrights, artificially limiting examiners’ ability to find/identify prior art. We have about 25,200 articles in Techrights and some of these are technical. Some shed light on old works in the areas of hardware and software. There are also like a million links in the blog and IRC logs (pointing to other sites).

Currently, the EPO is counting on being able to mask the collapse of patent quality. It’s attacking the judges and the courts. That’s an assault on justice itself. It’s going to get really ugly.

Today’s EPO (Team Campinos) is trying to bypass the courts themselves, sending the Boards of Appeal to ‘exile’ (as punishment and/or threat) and visiting ILO officials as if justice for staff isn’t the goal, only some fake ‘peace’. The judges internal to the EPO cannot function and World Intellectual Property Review has just cited their report, summarising with:

The number of cases settled by the Boards of Appeal at the European Patent Office increased by 22% last year, a new report shows.

Settlement. The new justice?

See the new comment by “Haar is not Munich” (approved last night by IP Kat, which censors some EPO criticism). It’s about the ‘exile’ of the Boards of Appeal at the European Patent Organisation/Office:

It does not really help to start splitting hairs. The city of Munich and the Munich Landkreis are two different legal entities. They have their own, different administration units.

If you are resident in the Landkreis, and let’s say you need a driving license or a passport, if you go to the city of Munich administrative unit, the so-called Kreisverwaltungsreferat, you will be send away. This is a reality which does not compare with London and its 32 boroughs.

Another comparison comes to light. At the well-known Oktoberfest, only breweries from Munich are allowed to sell their beer. If a brewery would relocate outside the boundaries of the city of Munich, i.e. in the Landkreis, they would be excluded from the Oktoberfest. Lots of breweries have moved partly from the centre of the city, but they always took great care not to move one inch over the boundary, exactly for this reason!

You may want to interpret the EPC, but nowhere in the mind of its fathers, had they ever envisaged to send part of the EPO outside the boundaries of the city of Munich. The decision was to locate the EPO next to the German Patent Office, in the so-called Isar building. There even used to be an underground passageway between the two buildings!

When the original EPO building became too small to take into account its growth, it has never been envisaged to lease or build anywhere else than within the boundaries of the city of Munich. You find nowadays the bulk of examiners in the vicinity of the main station. The mechanics principal directorate was temporarily relocated in a suburb, Neu-Perlach, but still within the boundaries of the city of Munich.

There would have been plenty of other buildings within the boundaries of Munich to relocate the Boards of Appeal, should the Isar building proved to be too small. It was pure retaliation to send the Boards of Appeal away to Haar, and in order to add insult to injury to claim that the move would increase the perception of their independence.

The EPO is meanwhile attempting to also replace the Boards of Appeal, basically putting them out of work. Illegal? Surely. Will the Constitutional folks realise this? The Federal Constitutional Court (FCC) in Germany still assesses a complaint about it; there are no signs of progress, but Team UPC can always make something up (as it has done for years). Yesterday we saw a chronically-lying UPC account pretending UPC is still on, citing a blog post by Team UPC (Bristows), adding: “[Asked about the future of the UPC] “According to Robin [Jacob] “it is still on at the moment. Unless it becomes impossible, it will happen.” Robin further stated “I predict you will have it on the program next year. It is this year or not at all.”

“We’ll all be raptured before UPC happens,” I replied to him jokingly. He’s a Munich-based patent parasite, looking to profit from UPC litigation galore. Benjamin Henrion, who took note of the above, added this quote from Team UPC: “Klaus Grabinski (Federal Court of Justice) noted that he is “still confident that the UPC is going to happen.” He expects a decision about the complaint launched at the Federal Constitutional Court to be rendered this year…”

Now trace it back to the source. He spoke at an event of patent maximalists, telling the crowd what it wanted to hear. That’s also citing a blog post by Team UPC (Bristows), relaying words from Alexander de Leeuw (Brinkhof). Here’s the whole portion:

After congratulating Sir Robin Jacob (former Lord of Justice of Appeal of the Court of Appeal, London) on his birthday – and after Robin Jacob informed Hugh that a collection of judges is known as “a wisdom’ – Hugh asked him about the future of the UPC. According to Robin “it is still on at the moment. Unless it becomes impossible, it will happen.” Robin further stated “I predict you will have it on the program next year. It is this year or not at all.” During a later part of the session Klaus Grabinski (Federal Court of Justice) noted that he is “still confident that the UPC is going to happen.” He expects a decision about the complaint launched at the Federal Constitutional Court to be rendered this year.

Well, but the Federal Constitutional Court isn’t his court. If there’s true separation between courts, how would he know? The same sort of guesswork and false rumours that promised a decision by last Christmas? Probably. On another note, what the heck are judges doing in a corporations-funded think tank of patent extremists? It makes it looks like the courts are ‘in bed’ with industry and aren’t working for the public. The previous chief judge of the Federal Circuit lost his job over it.

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